Laurence Caruana has had a strong impact on the contemporary visionary art movement as a writer, teacher and artist. He has written several books and online articles about visionary art including the Visionary Art Manifesto and The Visionary Revue. He teaches worldwide sharing the classical painting technique called mischtechnik as well as lecturing about visionary art and writing about emerging visionary artists and culture. Now after many years of work he is opening The Academy of Visionary Art in Vienna with the aid of several visionary artists including Ernst Fuchs, Kuba Ambrose, A. Andrew Gonzalez, David Heskin, Maura Holden, Amanda Sage and more. His impact as a teacher, writer and lecturer of visionary art has advanced the dialogue about visionary art in a dramatic way.
Laurence Caruana’s work focuses on dreams, myth, symbolism and what he terms the image language. He says the image language is the language from before the fall of Adam and Eve. We lived in a paradise heaven filled with amazing dream like images, he relates this image based time to childhood and believes the child lives more closely to this world of imagination language. Through art one can explore this image language which through art emerges and meets the material world.
When young he wanted to become an artist and attended the University of Toronto where he fell in love and explored a range of mediums including sculpture, theater, and painting. His desire to marry his college love was thwarted by her deteriorating mental illness which led to the creation of interesting work from Caruana focusing on psychological elements of human experience. Once completing his degree he left her and Toronto and traveled Europe developing his craft as a writer and recording the image language of his dreams.
Laurence Caruana has made many pieces of art inspired by women whom he has loved over the years and the profound effect each of these past lovers had had upon him. His paintings mix reality with his dreams which he translated into art. This early period of his work is very much filled with heartbreak and understanding the nature of the women in his life and how they impacted his personal growth. Each of these paintings based on these women is a mixture of art, myth and dreams both fantastic and real. Laurence Caruana emphasizes the power of dreams in his work more so than many visionary artists. His approach to dream is similar to the late psychologist Carl Jung in that he feels dreams reveal information about our inner reality from a material, spiritual and mythical perspective.
He came in contact with his wife, Ernst Fuchs and psychedelic experiences in his 30s all of which would become the most important inspirations in his life. He became an assistant to Ernst Fuchs and began learning painting from him through apprenticeship. His skill flourished and he developed the techniques of the master painters particularly mischtechnik. His meeting with Fuchs, his teacher and mentor, was preceded by years of dreams involving Fuchs which began after he had seen “Moses and the Burning Bush” painted by Ernst Fuchs. Ultimately, Caruana learned to commune with the mythical world of imagination and the gods through visions and depict those visions through painting. He used the paintings as doorways to a direct experience of the sacred. He learned to see the sacred in his life which was reflected in his dreams, madness, enthogenic visions and art. Ernst Fuchs was a guide leading Caruana to understand his own ability to see into the divine and to share those visions through painting using the classical mischtechnik as adapted by Ernst Fuchs.
Caruana wrote The Manifesto of Visionary Art and published it in The Visionary Revue and was invited to speak at conferences workshops and events. He has exhibited in Paris and abroad and discovered the eco village of Tori Superiore where he teaches the mischtechnik. Finally his passion became his vocation and profession fulfilling his dream of becoming an artist. Life itself is a gradual unfolding of the sacred.
In Cauruna’s writing he details how visionary artists approach the viewing and creating of the visionary artwork. This includes dialogue about enthogenic experience, mystical art, painting technique and even a new way of viewing art he calls entering through the image as well as history of visionary art. Mystical art is the foundation of the visionary art movement monumental works of the ancients dedicated to the divine reality. In modern times many people are gaining access to the mystical experience through the use of mind altering plants known as psychedelics or entheogens. The entheogen is the use of psychedelics for the purpose of mystical and spiritual development. The mystical experiences are then integrated into an artistic representation to share those visions with the world.
This idea of entering through the image is significant because most visionary artists have a unique way of seeing the image. They will stare at one point and distort their vision so the colors merge, blend and animate. For Laurence Caruana he covers one eye to get this effect. For me personally, I bring my eyes into a soft focus and stare at one point after a few moments the surface comes alive and the image beings to transform as the patterns and colors shimmer and move. From there the imagination is given free rein to reform and create new images out the available material. In this way one can enter through the image using the image as a key or door way to one’s own imagination and experience. Others say the ideal viewing of visionary art is in spiritual practice such as staring at the image while in meditation. Others say the ideal setting and viewing of visionary art is after consuming psychedelics. For others this image distortion is achieved through the use of multi-colored lighting or moving and shifting projections in the space and on the surface of the painting. This differentiation of lighting can bring out certain colors and patterns in the image to give the viewer another way of seeing and interpreting the image. This kind of viewing was seen a lot in the 60’s and 70 psychedelic poster movement as the posters were view in the setting of live music with multicolored lights and projections. By seeing the artwork in this way one can allow their own consciousness to fill the image and can transport into another realm of experience through viewing art.
Laurence Caruana’s latest and largest achievement is the Academy of Visionary Art in Vienna. This is establishing him as one of the foremost teachers of visionary art and he is bringing together many visionary artists to collaborate in the functioning of this educational institution. He is one of the foremost teachers of the Mischtechnik of painting along with Ernst Fuches and has impacted the visionary arts community worldwide.
By: Transpersonal Spirit