I’m re-reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being and came across this quote from the painter in the story. In it, she says to her lover: ‘You seem to be turning into the theme of all my paintings. The meeting of two worlds. A double exposure.’ I immediately thought of your paintings—am I crazy?
No, that’s a very interesting quote. Yeah, I really like the double exposure idea, of having layers or multiple meanings attached to a single thing. This body of work was dealing with otherworldly subjects, the paranormal—things that are little ethereal.
One of your painting’s is titled 'Astral Projection.' Have you ever experienced it IRL, or known someone who has?
Actually, it’s one of those things that I tried, but never actually quite got it to work. That’s why I made a painting about it. A lot of these paintings are maybe speculations about things that I was interested in, but never quite made happen. I had read a book about it and a friend of mine and I tried to do it, and it never worked out, so I thought it might be interesting to explore that as a painting idea—a sort of failed attempt.
Above: 'Astral Projection' and 'Cryptic Talisman.'
There was a guy in a class I was in once who said he left his body every night, and I remember thinking, 'Wow, that actually happens.' It just seems extremely rare.
And a part of me looks at that and thinks it must be a little scary. It’s inherently interesting. It’s one of those things where whether it happens without knowing about it, or it’s something your actively trying to do, it’s seems a little dangerous. You just don’t know what will happen.
It reminds me of Alex Grey and the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. Are you familiar with him at all?
A little bit. But actually I was looking at a lot of older religious paintings, and it struck me as I got a little older, that they’re pretty mysterious—there’s a lot of strange things happening in those paintings that are sort of inexplicable, whether you’re familiar with the stories or not. I went to Italy a few years ago, and just seeing a lot of these unusual events happening in paintings—I never really thought about it because I hadn’t been looking at that stuff so much at the time, but there are people flying around and strange things happening. So, it was an interesting moment—I looked at them in a new light.
Above: 'Close Your Eyes and Think of Two Questions' and 'Book Club.'
Your paintings are rife with stories. But what kind do you think they tell?
Well, I think what I was trying to do was not tell a particular story, but leave it open to different interpretations. I wanted to give some specific information, but leave them kind of open-ended so people can apply their own experience to it and spend more time with it. I didn’t want to make it too much of a strict narrative. I wanted to keep it mysterious.
What is your experience of the occult beyond the astral projection experiment?
It’s something that has aways fascinated and kind of scared me. I grew up religious, so it was something that you weren’t supposed to dabble with, and then of course, I became fascinated with it. It’s always been this sort of push and pull towards it. Even as I got older, I wasn’t really religious anymore, but something about it still drew me to it and scared me at the same time. I had these moments where I was like, 'I don’t know, could this be real?' It made me questions myself—do I believe in more than nothing? Something? Do I believe in more than what I can just experience? These things are embedded down there somewhere, even though I stopped being religious when I was much, much younger.
What’s the last dream you had that you can recall?
To tell you the truth, I don’t really recall my dreams. I recall them maybe the moment after I wake up, but after that I don’t really remember them. I wake up with a start and then just actively try to get up.
'Visitations' will be on view at Fortnight Institute through October 14.
Photos courtesy of Fortnight Institute.