Alex Grey may come off to a lot of people as a bizarre individual who experiments and toys with works of psychedelic proportions that surpass one’s basic human psyche. Initially, he was agnostic existentialist, who believed that all the thoughts and processes of the human mind start from the self. Later, he shed this belief and donned a radical transcendentalism outfit, as a mark of protest against the general trends in society and the state of culture in America. For someone who made this transition, Alex Grey is more than just an ordinary man who sees (and thinks) in vivid colour and extreme visuals. His chimerical talent has produced works under installation art, paintings, process art, performance art, sculptures and not to forget his infamous productions under visionary art.
Backtracking to his past we find that he was born to a simple family in the year 1953 on 29 November. His father is probably the one who holds credit for turning Alex into such a creative individual of proportions that don’t match up to anything conventional or mediocre. As a child, Alex would bury dead insects and animals in his backyard, proving that he had a sense of life after death from that age.
He met his wife, Allyson Rymland Grey (who was also an artist) at the Boston Museum School. The two of them shared the same kind of beliefs and even experimented with entheogenically induced sessions that pried open the doors of perception that lay dormant within the mind. They would even trip on LSD to enhance the experience of tapping into realms that only the mind could reveal. What Alex Grey and his wife saw through those heightened experiences was what inspired them to transform and translate these images into visual art.
Post his one year enrolment at the Boston Museum School, Alex went on to complete five years at Harvard Medical School where he worked in the anatomy department. It gave him a chance to explore the human body while preparing it for dissection. Another interesting department at Harvard was the Mind/Body Medicine, where under the guidance of two doctors, Alex studied the workings of subtle healing energies through scientific experiments. Using this wide spectral chunk of anatomical knowledge, he ventured forward into creating masterpieces that dealt with medical illustrations of the human body.
His world-renowned project entitled the Sacred Mirrors comprises 21 life-sized paintings that are housed with the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (CoSM). He’s used the human body, mind and spirit by demonstrating divine essence that each one of us holds, by portraying the physical and anatomical aspects of the three. His multidimensional representation of the different stages of reality are created in a groundbreaking, psychedelic, and deeply illustrative display of art. He’s envisioned how we as humans are ‘universal beings’ using an interplay of connected celestial spirals, the third eye, and grids of fire.
Grey put together a large art book that bound together his most prized work (Sacred Mirrors: The Visionary Art of Alexander Grey) that sold an astounding one hundred thousand copies (and more) worldwide. He’s penned a wide array of notable works like Transfigurations, True Visions, Art Psalms, and The Mission of Art among others. Because of his belief in transcendence and all things spiritually inclined, a lot of places have exhibited his artwork like the Grand Palais in Paris, the Stux Gallery, and the New Museum in New York to name a few. He has also been a keynote speaker at several conferences held worldwide, where his ideals and sense of the world/universe at large, are highly respected and embraced by those who follow in his footsteps or who work on their beliefs as strongly as he does.
I was truly thrilled to discover Alex Grey’s official website, where I urge you to take a look at the Sacred Mirrors slideshow available online. It’s a marvellous visual trip through his paintings, where out of twenty-one paintings, there are two etched mirrors. It allows viewers to ‘stand’ in front of the painting while mimicking the pose to develop a sense of one’s inner being. A ‘mirroring’ of what’s within, so to speak. The paintings are breathtaking, with each one carrying an eerie but eye-opening depth of tremendously creative detailing.
Alex Grey’s work has found its way into the music scene as well, where the heavy influence of his artwork has been used by bands like Tool, Nirvana, The String Cheese Incident, the Beastie Boys, and Meshuggah. Fans of his work and those who wish to see human life as beautifully as he does, can buy his written works, DVDs, and a slew of merchandise that is available through the official website. You’ll also stumble upon a section that has signed DVDs of Tool’s albums.
The artist has carved for himself a spacious niche in the art industry, where his skill set has been revered for decades, among fans both old and new. He gives our minds something to chew on when exposed to a surfeit of his artwork. A revelation to say the least, Alex Grey is on to something that only a mighty few have come to understand and accept. In my books, he is an incredibly talented man who has achieved a spiritual conquest that a lot of us have failed to take notice of and appreciate wholeheartedly.