Cry baby

Ive thought about this for many years: what is beauty? 

It is surely death 

When death is near, you love life, it’s beauty and it’s splendour. You think: how can one world be this beautiful? And the beauty overwhelms you like a blanket in the fever. You are standing on Friedrich’s sunset hill and you just wanna cry baby, cry.

early nineties in SA

wp-1491143125883.jpgFor me, growing up in the eighties, early nineties, in SA, what a mindfucking blast, a beautiful catastrophe. I played the part as the rebel, slutty girl who hated school. And “jags”…as adolescence dictates. It was two years before Apartheid ended, and I was so glad it did, so I could go out and hunt myself some coloured boys who knew how to dance and vry properly.

I religiously kept a diary, intensively, almost each day of my teenage life. A journal, consisting out of written Afrikaans prose, photographs, letters…I would like to open it up, but the chaos, the dust, the let it lie…perhaps not to be opened up at all, but burnt, once again one with the earth from where my experiences grew.

The people we admired, the social standard for beauty are evident in these pages.  And a different boy per page…a list of boys I kissed, the ones with the dots went further than a kiss. Just a Lovesick Afrikaans girls’ pop culture dagboekie.



So yes, I can draw.

Realistic, sometimes, yes.

But why would I want to?

Draw realistically.


I’m out to offer some

peace/piece of mind.

My mind.

Not bound by any notion

of beauty nor swept away by

the warped tide of image.


2000, sketchbook

the muse

I have a learner who did extremely well in an art competition recently. We sat for hours working on his art work, had endless discussions and really got to know each other. So very special, those hours we spent together.

Quite a while after, we were discussing the prize he had won and he said “…But m’am, I did it for you.” Of course I had to sit him down and have a good, serious talk about how all of this is for him, and only him.

I also had another learner, a few years ago, who stopped drawing because we had a disagreement about something. I felt so uncomfortable in that role: someone who has the power to switch the art on or off.

That’s the problem with being some sort of muse. Inspiring people is a dangerous art. Almost like administrating anesthetic…or a powerful healing hallucinogenic…Eventually the poet or the artist would come out of the creation-trance and then what, look for you to stimulate them again? Or completely give up on the art once inspiration has to flow from other sources or from themselves?

Perhaps a true muse can master the art of igniting a permanent flame that keeps on burning long after her departure.


marc chagall

Sometimes people feel like they died and went to heaven.

A first kiss can do that, or beautiful love-making, or tasting true Belgian chocolate…

If I ever have the privilege of entering one of the spaces surrounded by Marc Chagall’s stained glass works, that is where I’d go…heaven.

The light would penetrate me instantly and probably paralyze me momentarily…I can only imagine such splendor.

It would be one of those things I would do, one of those bucket list items…wow.web_zurich_sightseeing_kirchenfenster_fraumunster_marc_chagall_01SONY DSC5350605545_f778027f2f_bChagall 'America Windows' to be Temporarily Removed May 2img_7000

ryoko suzuki

See website here

The”Bind”series expresses my inner-self:a grown-up who has left the world introduced by her parents and other adults. Acquiring my own thinking and being,”Bind”shows a woman who has to deal with her female sexuality. In this work series, I bound myself with pigskin, which had been soaked in my blood as a symbol of womanhood. I was feeling and thinking about my life-in which I had transformed from a child who just believed what adults provided- leading it my very own way, as a woman, while wrapping my eyes, nose, mouth, and ears with pigskin. In this way, the”Bind”series are recordings of actions reflecting these considerations.



My ANIKORA series is acting in front of social background, of a growing trend in Japan, known as “aikora”: it is about Japanese men’s desire to see their favorite pop or movie stars in pin-up or nude poses.The ANIKORA series ironizes such masculine desire. The figures featured in these works have almost nude bodies of an exaggerated perfection, like all anime characters. But by exchanging the original face of these virtual identities with my own, real face, I am showing a critical, human position about a (globally) increasing indifference towards some of our desires, leading to a situation of external control.


 No one could give a quick answer to a fundamental question of an existence of human beings of “what I am”.
Do we understand in the sense of word what we are in the first place. I wonder if the question of “what I am” would raise you a question of who ask whom. The definition of myself of what I am would enable me to face each other at first. Until present-day, we never have the times of necessity of importance for relationship with others.
For that purpose, first of all, we need to think of “what I am”.



The Masturbation series uses my face as the image subject.
The reason I used myself as a subject is, I felt that since the face is the most expressive part of my body, it could serve as the entrance to communication between myself and society.
My face, which is this entrance to repeating aspects of memory, pain, restoration brought to the present, is recording these moments in a photographic form, showing my vulnerability. Working my way to my inner self in this manner, is a condition which i, as an artist, accept. I even transformed myself, and literally eliminated some points that could be used to recognize me.
For me, “silicone” acts as a second skin. The texture of my skin was imprinted on the surface of the semi-transparent silicone, looking like the remains of layer upon layer of sloughed- off skin.
While all my faces represent a single self in a passage of time from past to present, a ‘me’ with two faces (= skins) is portrayed.
Covering the past with the present, the flow of time is locked in some secret room. In this way, the imprinting, erasing, locking up, and disclosing themselves become part of a kind act of masturbation.


me and armanda

Armanda and I experimenting in 2009. She’s so cool, Armanda, she was so small then. She’s such fun to chill with, and she’s been so involved with my photographic portraits. And she’s so academic, so unlike her mama. My first born wonder.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

so you like to watch

The one place a voyeur should avoid, is being in front of a lense. You can’t wear your most beautiful shirt inside out, or wear your shoes the other way around. Watching is an artform that is seldom mastered by those in the limelight and vice versa. Master your artform: obey your nature.




Some arb mirror photos. Haven’t done these ones in a while.

We are confronted (bombarded) by our own image so many times a day. On our web-profiles, in the mirror before work, in the shop window, our passport photo, selfie-sticks…and so on. And we can recreate ourselves through filters and personas. Maybe one of those utopias that Foucault writes about in his Utopian Body. We can escape the here version of ourselves by image. We don’t know what ‘self’ means anymore. So the term’selfie’ is diminutive for a reason.



Often, when I do a series, I discard many photos.

It’s too disturbing. Or ‘a bit too much’. Or not powerful enough, or whatever. I end up discarding many incredible images.

I found these ones, from my series ‘refuse’, based on many of Foucault’s text on power. In 2014 I went through a black bag phase, fascinated with the nature of the plastic, the way it stretches, they way it’s fragile and can tear easily but at the same time keep things contained.

Here are some images I decided not to put in the series. I like the way my flesh appears super red. The contrast between flesh and plastic.







my new work ‘elixir’


This work explores Feminine Power.

A sigil was created by the artist and then copied onto a ghost image note.

The sigil was placed under a glass jar, where a tiger eye gemstone was charged with feminine power of the artist. A video was made, but at the point of charging the stone, a glitch froze the video, so none of the actual gnosis was captured on video.

The photos that were taken came out normally, although the video appeared altered.

No editing was done to the visual appearance of this video.

This was the process of the whole ritual:

A sigil was created symbolizing female power.

Tiger eye gemstone was charged (but not successfully documented) by the artist and then used to make an elixir.

After consuming drops from the elixir, the artist will meditate until a gnostic state lying down with four tiger eye stones. One under each palm, one on the third eye and the last one in the sacred hollow between her legs.

The sigil will also be charged during this time, by rubbing body fluids on the sigil and activating it by orgasm.

The gemstone and the sigil will be the artifacts for sale.

Below is the first part of the video performance and some photos taken during the process.

Below the initial video file. The whole performance was 4:21 min and only 1:03 min could be captured.

set yourself free

I love spending time with my favourite learner, Prince.

Yes, I have a favourite.

It’s awful, but I do. Have one.

So Prince (he’s 13 now) says to me that school is like slavery.

So I say society is slavery.

And then I say, Prince, the only time you will ever be free, is when you do art. It’s the only place you can ever go where you can be completely free.




As my spiritual experiences take me to deeper and deeper levels I am certain that we are all meant to be completely free. This is perhaps where all my anger comes from: we are just not free.tumblr_nvg8jxzfwh1upshdfo1_500


I’m doing some art to sell now, because I realize I am not selling my soul when I sell, I’m selling a product that has nothing to do with my soul.

Like a mug, or a lamp, or a T-shirt, products are products.

I just found this comment so funny, below, that someone posted on the art work for sale below. I never thought I would ever get a comment like this on any of my art.

Amazing what elevated levels of dopamine and a thirst for money can do.

COMMENT: Very pretty artwork, and gives me an uplifting feeling. 🙂in reach

20 years ago (plan A: become a famous artist)

So in three weeks it’s my 20 year reunion at school.

Needless to say, I was kinda a wild one back in the day.

And here is me twenty years later, much poorer than I was in school (they don’t allow credit and debt for youngsters), I’m with minus thousands in the bank and I live in an old little flat in the very same town I went to school, 20 years ago. The others have houses and life insurance and big paychecks and all the rest, I suspect. So yeah, I have no material gains to show off with.

But in retrospect, fuck, I have more amazing shit inside this mind of mind than ever. I have love and a supportive family who are my rock. I have seen countries and dreams and magick and I’ve acquired some serious ass wisdom through loss, pain and wonderful experiences.

I wrote to a special high school friend of mine yesterday, he’s based overseas so he won’t make it to the reunion.  I remember how he came to my house and took my out for ice cream and in his little car we shared our dreams with each other.

He made it there, to dream land. He did exactly what he set out to do, he got there. I didn’t. I went for plan B and although plan B brought the most incredible, unexpected treasures to my life, it wasn’t and still isn’t plan A.

I can blame bad decisions, or blame motherhood, or blame fear…but I won’t blame anything for this.  My life aint over yet.

And plan A doesn’t just disappear into the mist. It is still right where it was. Perhaps even waiting for me to come and activate it.


the unromanticised 20 years after pic

aphophenia and peridolia

Peter J Carroll writes about Apophenia and Pareidolia as goddesses, apophenia and pareidolia meaning psychological phenomena involving stimulus (image or sound) where the mind perceives a familiar pattern of something that doesn’t exist, or in other words, finding meaning in the meaningless.  These phenomena are, just like many great things in the world, associated with madness ( “madness”, which I seem to suffer from, as many other highly creative people also do) and I just love the way Carroll turned them into goddesses, completely accessible to the evoker at any time.





“The spider is a remarkable figure of feminine energy and creativity in the spirit animal kingdom. Spiders are characterized by the skilled weaving of intricate webs and patience in awaiting their prey. By affinity with the spider spirit animal, you may have qualities of high receptivity and creativity. Having the spider as a power animal or totem helps you tune into life’s ebbs and flows and ingeniously weave every step of your destiny.”

some recent thoughts on art works

All my art was on an external drive that finally packed out.

So, there you go.

As I experience this paradigm shift in my life, I am more certain than ever that my art is not art in the sense that today’s world perceives art.

I could never explain why I don’t want to be part of the ‘art world’;why I loathe exhibiting my work; why I could never fit into that space.

My art is ritual; it’s magick. If you want to see, I am more than eager to show you.

However, that is where it ends, with the revelation of the work. The explanations, the money-talk, the commercial, the ownership, the gallery spectacle…all the rest: I am simply not interested.

I don’t even consider myself an artist, though I have great drawing skill.

I am a practitioner who performs my own life story.

That’s all.


The magical and erotic phenomenology of ritual performance within the Babalon Current


Posted by amodali on Dec 30, 2014

As a precursor to the release of the forthcoming publication of ‘The Marks of Teth’, it seems timely to post a series of articles which give context and background to the material in the book from my earlier works. The posts will condense some of the material presented over the last couple of years in public lectures. In this piece, the focus is on ‘Mother Destruction’ (1990-2000). M.D. has been the longest standing public art project thus far in a series of works dedicated to the Babalon current. The project was a collaboration with Patrick Leagas of 6 Comm who contributed original compositions to the project, as well as working with me in creating musical structures which supported the magical practices within live performance and recordings. Although I won’t be featuring the project directly in the book, the ‘M.D.’ ritual performances were vital in consolidating some of the techniques that form the core of the practices in the M.O.T., the recordings may be of interest to those working or experimenting with performance/group ritual within the 156 current.

The Mother Destruction project was part of an ongoing corpus of magical work concerned with manifesting a personal definition of the ‘Body of Babalon’, the ‘body’ being a metaphor and a phenomenological map which delineates the occult anatomy and magic of the Babalon priestess. This is a form of magical cartography which is extended via an experimental, multidisciplinary process concerned with the development of the mysteries of the 156 current; and its ontological development as a vehicle for female, sexual gnosis. The praxis supports a proposition that Babalon’s magic is synonymous with a process of radical reform within current paradigms of magical sexuality. As ‘Woman girt with sword’ Babalon represents female magical intelligence and wisdom, a transgressive force that is driving the re-evaluation and deconstruction of the female position within existing occult systems.

Within the emergent Post-Crowleyan era, clarifying and developing understanding of the sacred occult anatomy of the Babalon priestess is an essential part of ‘new aeon’ sexuality. Within the contemporary Western Mystery Tradition, there has been much progress in terms of a greater female presence and powerful contributions to the Occult Corpus made by women. However,  progressive methodologies to channel the very specific sexual mysteries of the Babalon priestess have been scarce and this has seriously hindered the progress of the current.  This situation has sabotaged formulation of an active, initiating sex magical priestesshood. The process of reform cannot only be focused on retrieval of what has been repressed, lost or missing within female magical traditions. Reform must also be concerned with investigating the current in relationship to contemporary discourse on philosophy, theology, feminism, ecology, physics, biology, neuroscience, consciousness studies, etc. Much of contemporary thought and debate in these fields is relevant to the many unresolved concerns within esotericism about the epistemic development, metaphysics and ontology of the Babalon current. Questions are being raised on the nature of ‘Babalon consciousness’ itself, her magical subjectivity, corporeality and relationship to love and Eros; and definitions of space, language and gender in the context of women’s magical experience.

A wider, contemporary understanding of female occult anatomy can be explored within movements of modern philosophy and feminist theory, such as the phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the feminist theology of Luce Irigaray and the linguistic theories of Julia Kristeva.  Although not directly related to esoteric philosophy, I’ve found the work of these writers of great value in terms of providing models for critique and process, which are interesting in juxtaposition with the traditional esoteric corpus and an experiential, heuristic magical practice. Merleau-Ponty elevates the concept of the ‘phenomenological field’ within his work, emphasizing the inseparable relationship between body and world as the ‘Chiasm’, acknowledging the primacy of the body as mediator between consciousness and matter. Irigaray’s work is important in regards to deconstructing the gender bias in language and supporting concepts of female subjectivity. These core ideas lead to her advocacy of female divinity as a vehicle for what she terms a ‘radical immanence’. Kristeva rejected the concept of ‘écriture féminine’ (women’s writing) promulgated by feminist thinkers who felt it vital to develop feminine symbolic systems which emphasized concepts of difference within gender. However, her interpretations of Plato’s concept of the ‘Khora’ as a maternal device for exploring somatic origins of language and poetry have some compelling correspondences with Babalon’s magic and exploration of body-centered language within ritual performance.

Such perspectives can create some challenging contrasts to traditional esoteric models and one’s orientation when defining metaphysical position, space and dynamics within a ritual context. However, the work of Irigaray and Kristeva, in particular, is contextualized within classical philosophical tradition and psychoanalytical (and Kristeva’s predominantly Freudian) models which do not reflect paradigmatic, sociological shifts created during the modern occult revival and the progress of women within this. This generates a grey area between feminist theory, philosophy and contemporary esoteric traditions within which I believe the Babalon current is of great importance to the future direction of feminist theology and occultism. Within my practice, I’ve had to conclude that the epistemological remit of the Venusian, Babalon current does demand a very specialized ‘langue féminine’,  comprising of wholly erotic, corporeal, new magical languages and magical formulas that are derived from the female occult body itself. This extends Irigaray’s concept of feminine subjectivity into a highly technical and specialized phenomenological, occult, field of action. The M.D. Project was an experiment in defining magical space in a relationship with the concept of the ‘Body of Babalon’.

Ritual Performance

‘And the sign shall be my ecstasy, the consciousness of the continuity of existence, the omnipresence of my body.’ (AL I:26)

The core of the ‘Mother Destruction’ project centred upon live ritual performances within which the various disciplines and techniques that I had created through trance/possession with the Babalon current could be put into practice by creating a primal experimental, experiential space that has some parallels with Kristeva’s ‘Semiotic Khora’. However, it is a space that is not only linguistic but also has a distinctive bio-erotic force, which drives the creative action. M.D. was in part created to challenge the nihilistic aesthetic that pervaded the post-punk, post-modern experimental music scene. It was also a general response to the collective existential impasse and schism that characteristics our current era, to which I believe Babalon is a powerful antidote. However, Babalon’s new formulas represent a form of sexuality not yet fully matured and scarcely resembles anything related to previous cultural, old aeon perceptions of love and Eros. The Babalon current exalts  women in the western esoteric tradition in the role of sex magical initiatrix. It can’t be overstated how pivotal this will be in transforming the spiritual core of humanity. This momentous shift will reverberate to challenge the reductive perceptions and dismemberment of female sexuality in contemporary culture, that often define womens experiences of sexual love as primarily driven by instinctual, reproductive urges or narcissistic, reflexive responses to the male gaze. Thus, as well as the extremely radical psycho-physical, magical transformation that the current engenders; the ongoing re-evaluation of female sex magical territory is creating a ground zero, a launching pad, from which the regenerated and revolutionary aspects of the new sexuality may emerge.

‘Mother Destruction’ was a vessel created to develop this new prima materia. The name evokes the stark reality of a raw, erotic, untrammeled state of divine frenzy, the domain of the primal goddess. It is a metaphor for the kinetic turbulence within the alchemical, sexual process of ‘solve et coagula’ and ‘fire snake’ consciousness, a force that generates the ‘in-between’ worlds that propel one through ecstatic disintegration into the dark womb of potential and regeneration, through which any and all forms of copulative exchange may emerge, a universal, creative flux, which is mediated through the sacred anatomy of the Babalon Priestess. The performances brought  together important parts of the practice I’d developed into a magical environment which would hopefully communicate the orgasmic gnosis at the heart of the Babalon current at a corporeal and etheric level; and create a platform from which to develop experimental,  ritual formulas and magical languages.

Magical Kinetics

In terms of the physical dynamics of performance,  the presence of the fire snake within the body generates some universal phenomena – erotic, ophidian currents that have often been sublimated into the distinctive movements seen in sacred dance forms  throughout history. For example, the undulative serpentine dances of the ‘Kordax’ and ‘CifteTelli’, licentious and sacred dance forms that originated in Greece and the middle east and were precursors of modern ‘belly dancing’,  have a powerfully seductive momentum.  The captivating grace of the temple dances of the Devadasi,  historically animated the mudric/yantric forms of the goddess into flesh. Both of these art forms evoke the fire snake through a very defined aesthetic. However, grafting any existing dance forms or magical techniques into my practice would have felt very artificial. It seemed very important simply to cultivate the physical dynamics that I had experienced directly from Babalon into performances. This created  a distinctive but very raw, uncontrived aesthetic. I found that during possession by Babalon one creates a phenomenological field that has similarities to a shamanic séance and that Babalon and 156 egregore is the source of a magical-physical language with many distinctive qualities. Once possessed, one is immersed within a complex spectrum of trance states through which distinctive movements spontaneously emerge. These kinetic motifs create a corporeal narrative or journey within the magical performance space.

The phenomena of convulsive shaking and trembling observed in many shamanic cultures is a feature of the trance of Babalon, yet it  is distinctive from other forms of traditional trance practices in that it is primarily erotic and directed through occult channels related specifically to the 156 current. Also key is that the priestess must work from within a pre- orgasmic build up or state of release.The performances were personally very challenging and intended as a form of erotic, ‘Electro-shock therapy’, designed to puncture collective stereotypes of female, magical sexuality. The movements of the priestess causes spontaneous reactions from the audience/participants which creates a collective ecstatic counterpoint to the invocations of the priestess. The participants engage within the magical space and some may actively become entranced and commune with Babalon via the collective ‘khora’. I believe the magic of Babalon augurs future possibilities of vitalist, evolutionary paths which can nurture deep articulacy of sensation and perception within the physical being. It seemed very important to put into practice the principles of embodiment which are at the core of the 156 current. Being present with a person completely immersed in a state of abandonment and trance is a very disorienting experience, more so with the Babalon trance which is highly sexually charged. The priestess must be prepared to fall into a completely deranged, ecstatic state, which makes her simultaneously vulnerable and empowered.


The performances were concerned with creating ritual structures to earth and communicate the quintessence of the current. A significant aspect of the work has been to reinforce the kinetic energy produced during ritual with corresponding sonic material and vocals. The early Mother Destruction performances featured trance practices, movement and sound that expressed these earthy, shamanic aspects of the Babalon current. Freyja as the Nordic avatar of Babalon revealed herself as holding techniques concerned with corporeal  aspects of sex magic and embodiment. From these revelations a very personal interpretation of ‘seidr’,  the shamanic/archaic sex magical tradition associated with Freyja was incorporated into the practice. For example, the ritual performance of  the ‘Hella evocation’ is a live trance working in which the dark underworld aspect of Freyja emerges through vocalizations (click link below to hear) and movements that relate directly to her vibrational location within the magical body.

Hella Roots.

The movements that invoke and channel Hella are wildly spasmodic and violent. The shamanic frenzy of these underworld energies is essential in assimilating the highly explosive and unstable manifestations of the fire snake that accompanies the first stages of initiation into the mysteries of 156. Thus, Hella is important at the ‘Saturnine’ stage of development of the ‘Body of Babalon’, a complex process described in detail in the M.O.T. Her energy once assimilated can also be invoked in group work or performances, in which Hella has the function of eliminating any energies from the field of action that hinder the success of the rite. By contrast, ‘kenaz’ was a poetic, liturgical drama and a phenomenological narrative which describes and physically evokes the construction of the solar, ‘golden raiment’, the definitive initiatic garb of the Babalon priestess. Through delicate and skillful trembling and shuddering movements, the priestess weaves the structure of the golden garment in light. Then, clothing herself in the rays of the sun, she carries and propels the participants in magical flight across the abyss, via the fiery, vulvic, solar gateway of Babalon.

My understanding of Babalon’s magic is that it encompasses many aspects of trance and possession states that may be considered shamanic and I have discovered that there are some distinctive phenomenological motifs that link shamanic practices with Babalon and Seidr work. However, Babalon’s magic is characterized by its sex magical foci and it’s transmission through the female body and has many qualities that are unique to her. Through the development and communication of these feminine aspects of Babalon, the development of her magic in relationship to all of her devotees across the gender spectrum will advance greatly. The M.D. project was thus an experiment to create a form of sex magical technology specifically to transmit these nuances of the current. A synthesis of Sonics, movement and ritual dynamics focused on the melding of the core of Babalon’s bio-linguistic formulations in the magical field, to create a matrix through which a vibrational, simulacrum of Babalon could be constructed.





sy skryf briewe en seël die koevert

met donker rooi warm was

en in die was maak sy afdrukke

van haar mond haar brand haar

harde kont, die regterduim, haar nipple


sy vryf parfuum op, die koevert teen haar nek

en soen die brief voor sy ‘n adres opskryf

wat sy nou al uit haar kop kan sê.


Só connect sy met daai brief


soos ek en jy connect het, ‘n merry teenage camp

onthou jy, love at first fondle, ‘n real deal

ek’s mos meant for you


sy dink eers die brief het verlore geraak in die pos

totdat sy, soos ek, besef het daar was no reply

en haar hourly trips posbus toe was ‘n

moerse mors van tyd



I’ve been fascinated by the tension between the private and the public for a very long time. That curve, that edge where you say what you shouldn’t or not say what you should.

My new performance is about letters and how the written text transgresses to a possible outcome once it’s contained within the boundaries of the envelope. The envelope: thin piece of paper but a wall between here and disaster, or here and the sublime….

rudolf steiner’s blackboard drawings

What a spiritual experience for me looking at the work of Rudolf Steiner.

So magnificent.

rudolf-steiner (1)5efc3572338b63ff714852ba23ad10c7Kunsthal-Rotterdam-Minitour-Rudolf-Steiner-1rudolf-steinertumblr_ne20n4PsU11rtynt1o4_r1_1280tumblr_o3at6wgeXn1rtynt1o7_1280wandtafel2z4-tokyo-steiner-a-20140327

“The exhibition moved many people and it carries a message: one does not need to be an anthroposophist to be able to read it. It is the message of the one source of energy which the whole world acknowledges – and only a child of our materialistic age could interpret that in a materialistic way. Here we feel the spiritual force of a holistic approach which really does make it possible to see the same energy at work in economic courses on values and prices as in reflections on the working of the spirit in nature. These blackboard drawings with their firm link to Beuys – the visual experience is, indeed, much the same – these enchantingly gentle energy fields were neither understood as snapshots of calligraphy nor as graphical works of art. But they bear witness to the wholeness of a being which is defined wherever it comes to expression, which can never deny itself.”

Basler Zeitung, 19 June 1993

yves klein

I don’t think this space allows enough men to enter…since it’s mainly feminist, and, sometimes, anti feminist. So I’m starting to dedicate a category on the blog  to….males. And if there are males, they might as well be artists/poets whose work I ADORE.x  yves-klein-6026-yves-klein-theredlist

By Alastair Sooke

Yves Klein: The man who invented a colour

The Frenchman was an artist, showman and inventor – who created a hue that had never existed before. How did he achieve this? Alastair Sooke reports

One summer’s day in 1947, three young men were sitting on a beach in Nice in the south of France. To pass the time, they decided to play a game and divide up the world between them. One chose the animal kingdom, another the province of plants.

The third man opted for the mineral realm, before lying back and staring up at the ultramarine infinity of the heavens. Then, with the contentment of someone who had suddenly decided what course his life should take, he turned to his friends and announced, “The blue sky is my first artwork.”

That man was Yves Klein, whom the New Yorker’s art critic Peter Schjeldahl described in 2010 as “the last French artist of major international consequence”. In a period of prodigious creativity lasting from 1954 to his death from a third heart attack at the age of 34 in 1962, Klein altered the course of Western art.

He did so thanks to his commitment to the spiritually uplifting power of colour: gold, rose, but above all, blue. In fact, his chromatic devotion was so profound that in 1960 he patented a colour of his own invention, which he called International Klein Blue.

Razzle dazzle

Born in 1928 with two painters for parents, Klein always displayed a penchant for showmanship. He loved magic as well as the arcane rituals of the mystical Rosicrucian society, and the influence of both would later manifest itself in his work.

After spending a year and a half in the early 1950s mastering judo in Japan, where he earned a black belt, he eventually settled in Paris and devoted himself to art. His first exhibition of monochrome paintings in various colours was held in the private showrooms of a Parisian publishing house in 1955.

(Samuel Kubani/AFP/Getty Images) (Credit: Samuel Kubani/AFP/Getty Images)

Yves Klein paintings on display as part of Blue Revolution exhibition at the Mumok Museum in Vienna in 2007 (Samuel Kubani/AFP/Getty Images)

His short career was characterised by many radical gestures, often touched with his flair for spectacle. To celebrate the opening of a solo exhibition in 1957, for instance, he released 1,001 helium-filled blue balloons in the St-Germain-des-Prés district of Paris. The following year, an exhibition now known as ‘The Void’ consisted of nothing more than an empty gallery – yet it attracted a crowd of 2,500 people that had to be dispersed by police.

Leap Into the Void, his famous black-and-white photograph of 1960, presents Klein soaring upwards from the parapet of a building like a Left Bank Superman. Like all feats of magic, though, the photograph is actually a trick: in this case a montage, so that the tarpaulin held by some friends, which would have softened Klein’s landing, has disappeared.

Perhaps his most notorious performance, though, occurred in March 1960, at the opening of his Anthropometries of the Blue Epoch exhibition in Paris. On this occasion, footage of which can be viewed online, Klein appeared before an audience wearing a formal tailcoat and white bowtie. While nine musicians played his Monotone-Silence Symphony (a single note drawn out for 20 minutes, followed by a further 20 minutes of quiet), Klein directed three naked models as they covered themselves with sticky blue paint, before imprinting images of their bodies upon a white canvas. The models had become, he said, “living brushes”.

(Express Newspapers/Getty Images) (Credit: Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

Klein photographed in front of one of his Blue Sponge Sculptures in the late 1950s (Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

“The genius of Klein is becoming more and more apparent,” says Catherine Wood, Tate Modern’s curator of contemporary art and performance. “He has been dismissed by some art historians as a charlatan or – because of his use of naked female models – as conventional and sexist, but his strategies were playfully critical and are becoming more significant in their influence for the younger generation. It could be argued that he was a critical prankster on par with Duchamp.”

Expanding the spectrum

For all his influence on conceptual art, though, Klein was most preoccupied with colour. As early as 1956, while on holiday in Nice, he experimented with a polymer binder to preserve the luminescence and powdery texture of raw yet unstable ultramarine pigment. He would eventually patent his formula as International Klein Blue (IKB) in 1960.

Before that, though, he made his name with an exhibition held in Milan in January 1957 that included 11 of his unframed, identical signature blue monochromes, one of which was bought by the Italian artist Lucio Fontana. This show ushered in what Klein called his “Blue Revolution”, and soon he was slapping IKB onto all sorts of objects, such as sponges, globes and busts of Venus. Even his ‘living brushes’ dipped their flesh in IKB.

Art historians still debate the significance of Klein’s use of ultramarine. For some, it represented a break with angst-ridden abstraction, which was popular in the wake of World War II. Painted mechanically using a roller, Klein’s flat, blank monochromes seemed to rebuff expressionist art.

Klein’s Blue Sponge Sculptures (Thomas Lohnes/AFP/Getty Images) (Credit: Thomas Lohnes/AFP/Getty Images)

Klein’s Blue Sponge Sculptures (Thomas Lohnes/AFP/Getty Images)

For other scholars, though, Klein’s depthless monochromes and obsession with ‘the void’ can be understood as expressions of the threat of nuclear holocaust. “We absolutely must realise – and this is no exaggeration – that we are living in the atomic age,” Klein once said, “where all physical matter can vanish from one day to the next to surrender its place to what we can envision as the most abstract.”

Yet perhaps his love of blue is less specific and more profound. Klein was a pious Catholic, and in religious art blue often represents eternity and godliness. For instance, Giotto, whom Klein admired, was a brilliant advocate of blue. Klein’s ultramarine monochromes are not overtly Christian, but he certainly used the sensuousness of IKB to suggest spirituality. As he once said, “At first there is nothing, then there is a profound nothingness, after that a blue profundity.”

Certainly, his rich, radiant monochromes share a singular characteristic: they all have a vertiginous quality that seems to suck us out of reality towards another, immaterial dimension. The effect of looking at them is not dissimilar to meditating upon a deep azure sky – something that Klein perhaps intuited as a young man, on that beach in Nice in 1947.

(Olivier Laban-Mattei/AFP/Getty Images) (Credit: Olivier Laban-Mattei/AFP/Getty Images)

Klein’s 1960 painting Great Blue Anthropophagy, Homage to Tennessee Williams (Olivier Laban-Mattei/AFP/Getty Images)

When considering Klein, then, it is important to remember that for all his stunts and attention-grabbing performances he was a sensualist as much as a provocateur – and that this accounts for his fondness for colour. “For Klein, pure colour offered a way of using art not as a means of painting a picture, but as a way of creating a spiritual, almost alchemical experience, beyond time, approaching the immaterial,” explains Kerry Brougher, who curated the major retrospective Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC, in 2010.

“Out of all the colours Klein used, ultramarine blue became the most important. Unlike many other colours, which create opaque blockages, ultramarine shimmers and glows, seemingly opening up to immaterial realms. Klein’s blue monochromes are not paintings but experiences, passageways leading to the void.”

Alastair Sooke is art critic of The Daily Telegraph

joseph beuys


ii-joseph-beuys-photographed-by-caroline-tisdall“Let yourself fall.
Learn to observe snakes.
Plant impossible gardens.
Let someone dangerous in for tea.
Make small signs that say “yes”
and spread them all over your house.
Become a friend of freedom and uncertainty.
Look forward to dreaming. Cry at the movies.
Swing as high as you can on a swing at moonlight.
Maintain different moods.
Refuse to be “responsible”.
Do it out of love.
Take a lot of naps.
Pass on money. Do it now.
The money will follow.
Laugh a lot. Bathe in the moonlight.
Dream wild, imaginative dreams.
Draw on the walls. Read every day.
Imagine you are enchanted.
Giggle with children. Listen to old people.
Open yourself. Dive in. Be free.
Praise Yourself. Let go of fear.
Play with everything. Preserve the child in you.
You are innocent.
Build a castle of covers
Get wet. Hug trees.
Write loveletters.”