On January 8th, 2012, the Salon de Beauvais, in the well-known wine region of Burgundy, France was gifted with the unveiling of a collection of masterworks by Maltese-Canadian artist, Laurence Caruana. Each painting in the retrospective exhibition was designed and conceived to allow one the opportunity to “enter through the image”.
The centerpiece of this epic life’s work was a new oeuvre that wholly embodied the artist’s visionary ideals of a perfected vision of the sacred. ‘Vishnu-Christ Avatar’ offers innumerable examples to experience a profound inner understanding which connects far distant religious traditions.
Belying the separation of the Byzantine and Hindu icons and motifs, this piece reveals that the similarities and archetypal origins of each are united as one. The size and shape of each minute section of detail in the piece has its origin in a basic elemental armature of an overlaid circle, square and triangle. The resulting form creates a recursive hidden skeleton which harmonizes the multitude of images into a chorus of angelic voices.
Interspersed among the masterworks in misch technique and other media, were displayed several drawings that could only be compared to the now-famous journals of renaissance master, Leonardo DaVinci. These studies, complete pieces unto themselves, are comprised of small sketches, drawings and hand-written explorations of the hidden meanings and oneiric origins of the symbol-rich artwork. These graphic elucidations were warmly received invitations into the depths of the artist’s inner vision.
In his introductory oration at the vernissage, Caruana made the assertion that these paintings and other sacred artworks were not merely concerned with the creation process, nor the finished product as a commodity. As one becomes still in their presence, each piece serves as an iconic focus for meditation. With a meditative awareness, one may become transformed and illuminated by the images of the divine, witnessing deeper dimensions of the spiritual nature of human existence.
In celebration of the visionary lineage of past, present and future, Caruana delivered a moving presentation of the depth of heart which epitomizes the visionary art movement. During the lecture, the audience sat with rapt attention and there was a palpable sense of awe in the crowded room as worlds were bridged and the modern global visionary art movement was eloquently introduced to the old world. After a lengthy ovation, attendees were offered the opportunity to satiate their own inquiries about the implications of such an art tradition. As they posed questions to Caruana at the edge of their own cosmic understanding, it was distinctly clear that new minds and audiences were indeed opening through the mystical worlds represented in the art.
As a true polymath, Caruana’s erudition finds expression through multiple forms. His mastery of the image language is eclipsed only by his numerous published works as an author, including the indispensable ‘First Manifesto of Visionary Art’. As the visionary art world awaits his subsequent volume of the Manifesto, his other books, the scholarly ‘Enter Through the Image’ and ‘The Hidden Passion’ (a novel of the Gnostic Christ based on the Nag Hammadi texts), open deep glimpses into the very nature of the visionary experience.
As the mythic work of Laurence Caruana continues to shine forth, may it illuminate all who encounter it’s sacred presence.
Written by David Heskin & Aloria Weaver