James Swain [Perspective]

Untitled (Triptych) [2010]
from PERSPECTIVE [March 18 - April 4, 2010]


Artist Statement:

“To all appearances, the artist acts like a mediumistic being who, from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his way out to a clearing.”
                                                                                  – Marcel Duchamp, The Creative Act

The portraits that comprise the triptych are of three modern artists whose work touches on aspects of alchemy and magic: R. Buckminster Fuller, Charles Baudelaire, and Austin Osman Spare. Transposed over these portraits are various alchemical symbols meant to draw attention to the alchemical and magical nature of their work.

The poet Baudelaire, as the quintessential flâneur
, whose work was inspired by his experiences of exploring the urban underworld of late 19th century Paris as in his volume of poetry Les Fleurs du Mal, has contributed significantly to our understanding of urban phenomena and modernity. The work of Baudelaire and the French Symbolist poets ultimately set out to describe a new set of metaphors as a sorcellerie evocatoire – a magical operation – or an alchimie du verbe.

The elemental geometry of Fuller’s seminal work, the geodesic dome, embodies a union of opposites (an inherent concept of alchemy) in that it is a sphere made up of interlocking triangles that provide structure and volume for the dome.

These three collages are mostly inspired by the sigils of Spare, an English artist who developed idiosyncratic magical techniques based on his theories of the relationship between the conscious and unconscious self. “A sigil takes two of the best elements of youth culture and combines them into a source of wish-fulfillment: making cut ‘n’ paste collages and jerking off. Like a logo, a cross or a pentacle, a sigil acts as a point of focus for the compounded, single expression of a particular desire.”

These three artists have ultimately allowed for the understanding of new and challenging perspectives on poetry, architecture and art. They are chosen here for their contributions to cultural production as well as their mythological status.  These figures are also the embodiment of the idea that the way of art leads to the mountaintop that is everywhere, beyond opposites, of transcendental vision.  Where, as William Blake discovered and declared "the doors of perception are cleansed and everything appears to man as it is, infinite."

16"x20" each.
Framed prints are available for $150 each or $400 for the set of three.
Edition limited to ten.