Since as far back as the 1400’s, artists have been attempting to capture the essence of subtle realms of existence through training in and mastering the language of the visual arts. Many contemporary Visionary artists count Hieronymus Bosch, Salvador Dali, and Frida Khalo to be influential in their work, and the movement is seen by some as the direct extension of the Surrealist and Psychedelic art movements.
Visionary art is “art that purports to transcend the physical world and portray a wider vision of awareness including spiritual or mystical themes.” Pain, illness, psychoactive substances, meditation, yoga, or other forms of spiritual practice can all take us beyond the day to day experience of reality into subtle realms and ways of seeing the world around us that are ordinarily beyond our ability to perceive. Such experiences often bestow the peace of mind of having seen for oneself that there is something more. Visionary artists can be seen as a particular tradition of teachers and way- showers, driven to attempt to communicate in between states of consciousness and to map out some of these subtle realms in order to inspire other people to go beyond the small self and attempt to access theses invisible realms and have their own realizations there.
The genre boasts many living masters that have entered the mainstream dialogue, such as H.R.Giger,
who’s aesthetic focuses on realms of cold, metallic worlds inhabited by only vaguely humanoid alien/machine hybrids. Despite the unsettling nature of his work, he has successfully brought his unique visions into the mainstream culture, and it can now be seen in major motion pictures such as Alien
and even gracing calendars sold in the mall. There is of course the extraordinarily detailed work of Alex Grey
, considered by many to be one of the most important visionary artists of our time. As we considered these larger artist’s contributions to the culture at large, we realized that right up there with our appreciation for greats like Alex Grey was our love for many of San Diegos’s own extremely talented next generation of visionary artists, like Janelle C. Despot
, the artist we partnered with to create our wisdom deck, and Jetter Green
(shown above) a local who’s work has been licensed and used to adorn everything from baseball caps to downhill skiing equipment.
Among the many highly skilled artists of San Diego, one such visionary really stands out. Kelsey Brookes has made a name for himself with his incredibly detailed fields of color, energy, and vibration. Born in 1978 in Denver, Colorado. Kelsey comes from a science background, and spent time living out of his car and surfing in Australia before moving to San Diego and pursuing his art full time.
“Anything having to do with the brain is interesting to me; I have lots of curiosity and questions concerning existence, both philosophically and scientifically, and because of my background a good place to start my interrogation of life is through the brain.”
In the grand tradition of many visionary artists that have come before, Kelsey developed a working relationship with the San Diego indie band Grand Ole Party , and has since created cover art for several of their albums. He has also created album art for acts like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, in addition to having large solo shows of his work, such as 2012’s “Meditations on Symmetry” series that showed in Malibu, CA.
Kelsey has stated that his signature style is the result of combining his desire for beautiful women, hindu folk art, and the discovery channel. We tend to think of visionary realms as being accessed through a transcending of our earthly concerns, but Brooks list seems to indicate that it is just as possible to access a mystical perspective on life by deepening our attention to our most earthly, primal areas of interests, to the same end. Although his art and the messages that come through it have been praised for capturing the spirit of the times, to us the message is both ancient and true- that it is possible to tap into the spiritual by embracing rather than renouncing the material world, and any journey when undertaken with full heart and good intention will prove worthy and enriching- all roads lead home.