Life-size paintings of men, women, gods, goddesses, and human anatomy convey the convergence of the spiritual, medical, and psychotropic influences on Alex Grey's portrayal of the divine. These paintings are on display for Grey's five-year exhibition (opened fall 2004) in New York City entitled Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. In addition to his paintings, Grey has done over 50 works of performance art. This has included shaving his head and vomiting money to larger, more complex works, such as the one he called Goddess -- for this piece, Grey constructed a giant figure of a "goddess" using 5500 apples. Once completed, his wife sat nursing their baby at the heart center of the figure, and Grey genuflected 100 times at the goddess' feet (later, the apples were donated to a shelter for homeless families).
On his website, www.alexgrey.com, Grey writes: "...usually only the best and most transcendentally flipped out, maxed out, weird-ass shit can convince our scrutiny and judgment to give up, to shut up, to get out of your head and feel and know that the ecstasy is real. Spirit is real. God is real and making the art to wake us up to our real and infinite Being. Boink."
Grey will be sharing his vision locally with "Transfigurations," a lecture and slide show at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla on Friday, February 25. Transfigurations is also the title of Grey's latest book, a follow-up to his first, and widely popular, Sacred Mirrors (the book that inspired his Chapel of Sacred Mirrors). Eric Davis of the Village Voice described Grey's work as "electric, densely layered, and deeply psychedelic images [that] represent human bodies as skinless, semitransparent forms that overlay flesh and blood, bones and nerves, rainbow chakras, and cabalistic glyphs."
Grey's biography reads: "He had a series of entheogenically induced mystical experiences which transformed his agnostic existentialism to a radical transcendentalism." Grey and his wife of 25 years, artist Allyson Grey, met while tripping on LSD -- the entheogenic drug they have each identified as the catalyst for their respective visions.
Grey is a guest of Sushi Performance & Visual Art. Sushi is a nonprofit arts organization that has been "dedicated to presenting and supporting contemporary performance, dance, and visual art" for the past 25 years, says artistic director Allyson Green. Previously located in downtown's Carnation building, Sushi was rendered homeless when the building was demolished to make way for the new Icon building. "Rather than the temporary loss of our permanent home being a stumbling block, we have turned this into what I think will be one of the most creative times for Sushi," says Green.
For the duration of the waiting period before construction is completed, Sushi will be known as Sushi: Take Out, producing shows with local partners including La Jolla Music Society, City College, TNT at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego State University, and Sledgehammer Theater.
Each show will be tailored for its venue. Sushi chose the Neurosciences Institute as the venue for Grey's lectures for a reason -- his work is scientifically accurate. Grey spent five years at Harvard Medical School studying the body and preparing cadavers for dissection, and later taught artistic anatomy and figure sculpture at New York University.
The auditorium in which Grey will be speaking was designed by noted acoustician Dr. Cyril Harris. The Neurosciences Institute won Best Design of 1996 in Time magazine. According to architecture critic Ann Jarmusch of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the 56,000-square-foot Institute "is as good as architecture gets." -- Barbarella
Sushi Performance & Visual Art presents: "Transfigurations," a lecture and slide show with artist Alex Grey
Friday, February 25
10640 John Jay Hopkins Drive, La Jolla
Cost: General admission, $10; students, seniors, Sushi members, $5
Info: 619-235-8466 or www.sushiarts.com