Robert Venosa, born January 21, 1936, was an influential painter developing the styles of fantastic realism and visionary art. From a young age Robert was attracted to painting and drawing and other forms of artistic expression. He found inspiration in many images from his youth and from the emerging psychedelic culture of the 1960’s and 70’s. He says, “Anything artistic has always been an allurement and inspirational force for me, starting with the early, great Disney classics, through the revolutionary psychedelic poster art of the ‘60’s, discovering Dali and the Fantastic/Visionary artists, but most of all, through LSD, which awakened my spirit to the dormant creative power that awaited within, allowing me the vision to see the higher levels of art and my potential for creating it as well.” (Robert Venosa- http://www.realitysandwich.com/slideshow/robert_venosa).
Robert Venosa was a counter culture artist because of his teachers, the people he met and the meaning reflected through his art. He was a part of a cultural revolution and an exciting scene of artists, musicians, and intellectuals from the 60’s until his death. When asked what being an artist means he replied, “It means belonging to a unique, exciting gang of outlaws. It will always be the explorers, artists, poets, curious intellectuals, musicians, and all the other existential samurai who are creatively courageous, who desire to advance their yearnings for higher truth, and who will take the leap of faith into the unknown. This jump can be inspired by many various techniques, including – and in the forefront – visionary art, which helps the observer to transcend base ideas, and enter a world of alternate possibilities.” (Robert Venosa- http://www.realitysandwich.com/slideshow/robert_venosa).
He was taught by Mati Klarwien and Ernst Fuchs (who were highlighted in earlier posts) and developed a highly impressive artistic style. He was also introduced to the psychedelic icons of the 1960’s and 1970’s through Mati Klarwein who was making album covers for Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis and Santana. Venosa states, “”What a time (Autumn, 1970) that turned out to be! Not only did I get started in proper technique, but at various times I had Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Jackie Kennedy and the good doctor Tim Leary himself peering over my shoulder to see what I was up to.” (http://www.venosa.com/bio.html). Robert Venosa later moved to Spain and became acquainted with his new neighbor Salvador Dali as well as the many other artists who were attracted to the Village of Cataques, Spain. Dali said of his neighbor Venosa, “Bravo Venosa! Dali is pleased to see spiritual madness painted with such a fine technique.” (Dali http://www.venosa.com/bio.html).
Being an artist had a deep meaning for Robert, it was more than a career it was a spiritual path of self inquiry and direct experience of transcendent realities. The images and symbols which emerge from this inner journey are then manifest on the canvas for all to see. He feels that by painting images from the imagination he is creating a mirror which reflects a transcendent light. Through the creation of art he not only influences others but also enters into a path of self-discovery. He was always aware of the transformative power of art. He says, “One of the magical purposes of a painting is that it acts like a transcendent mirror, reflecting parts of our inner being and subtly touching at our soul. Art, at relative levels, is an emotional experience, and, if it’s not extruding detritus from our subconscious, then, hopefully, it’s opening up the channel of our superconscious and letting in some of the cosmic light. Any powerful work of art will transmit the love, dedication and energies of the artist who created it, and will enter the viewer at a depth equal to that from whence it came. Be that as it may, as an artist, I paint to discover who I am.” (Robert Venosa- http://www.realitysandwich.com/slideshow/robert_venosa).
He became a well-known painter but also worked in multi-media doing design sketches from the films, Dune, Fire in the Sky and Race for Atlantis. His paintings were published in two books “Noospheres: The Paintings of Robert Venosa and “Illuminatus” with text by Terrance Mckenna. His works have also appeared on album covers by Santana, Ornette Coleman, Cynic and Kitaro.
Robert Venosa traveled the globe with his partner Martina Hoffmann, teaching their painting technique in workshops and at Naropa University in Boulder, CO. He settled in Boulder with Martina and opened an art gallery. The technique he taught is a derivative of what he learned from his teachers which is largely similar to the Flemish master painting technique known as Mischtechnik. His technique differs from mischtechnik because the material used for the under painting is caesin versus egg tempera but largely follows the same processes.
He left his physical body on August 9, 2011 after an eight-year battle with cancer. He left behind an impressive body of work which is unique and beautiful and he became an inspiration for the very growing community of visionary artists.
Links to articles featuring other artists mentioned above.
More links to Robert Venosa
http://www.erowid.org/culture/characters/venosa_robert/venosa_robert.shtml (has a great list of resources)