Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Outer Limits of Visual Experience

I have always had a fascination with the outer limits of visual experience -- outsider art, mental illness and art, psychoactive drugs and art. What happens as artists when our "cerebral reducing valve," as Aldous Huxley termed it, is stuck in the open position? How do we classify these works in the canons of visual art? Do we in the West tend to undervalue the visionary, the hallucinatory, the spiritual in art?

Rather than trying to answer these complex questions, I've put together a series of videos that addresses some of these issues and, I hope, provides food for thought.

If you follow the instructions on the screen of this first video, you will experience a brief and very real visual hallucination at the end. Nothing scary pops out at you. If you are prone to seizures or are afraid of this sort of thing, I suggest you skip this video.


This next video is about a series of nine drawings done by an artist under the influence of LSD 25 as part of a government research program in the 1950s.

This video tells the story of English artist Louis Wain (1860-1939) who was well known for his anthropomorphized drawings of cats. He developed late-onset schizophrenia at the age of 57 and continued to draw increasingly psychedelic cats.

This last video is of Chinese choreographer Zhang Jigang's Thousand Hand Bodhisattva (Guan Yin). While technically this is a dance performance, I think you'll agree that it qualifies as an intensely visual experience.

Panel Discussion Video

Thanks to everyone who showed up last weekend for our panel discussion Sincerely Whose? Authenticity, Irony and Uncertainty in Contemporary Art.

Upcoming Events at Offramp Gallery

September 11 - October 9, 2011

October 9:
Closing Reception for
Lisa Adams: Born This Way, 2-5pm
Book Signing for Lisa Adams's Monograph: Vicissitude of Circumstance, 2-3pm
Artist's Talk by Lisa Adams, 3pm

October 10-22:
Closed for installation

October 23:
Opening Reception for Susan Sironi:
New ABCs: Altered Books & Collages, 2-5pm

October 30:
Reading and book signing: Author Hunter Drohojowska-Philp's Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s, 3pm

November 20:
Closing Reception for Susan Sironi:
New ABCs: Altered Books & Collages, 2-5pm
Artist's Talk by Susan Sironi, 3pm

November 21 - December 3:
Closed for installation

December 4-11: ArtZone 2011
Opening Reception: Sunday, December 4, 2-5pm
Closing Reception: Sunday, December 11, 2-5pm


  1. I have been called an outsider, a folk artist but it doesn't matter , I know what I am (, titles are for the pseudo-art collector, when I hear someone explain what a painting means, to me it means painting has failed on its own to deliver a message. no one has ever had to explain any of my paintings to someone else, the message is clear and forthright no pretensions or hidden meanings , what you see and what the painting means, and not everyone sees the same thing. Some see my disabilities. Some see my strengths and some see only a painting, but that's fine, art is subjective, the only thing I want my paintings to do is start a conversation.
    fred budin

  2. I remember Op-Art was big in the mid-60s. We used to see a lot of the visual black & white paintings at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery when I lived in Buffalo. Very intriguing. Thanks for the post!