Opus Hypnagogia: Sacred Spaces of the Visionary and Vernacular, Curated by Stephen Romano

soulsJuly 18 – October 18, 2015
More on this show, with images, here.

The Morbid Anatomy Museum is excited to announce Opus Hypnagogia: Sacred Spaces of the Visionary and Vernacular, a new exhibition by Stephen Romano opening July 18 in recognition of the museum’s first year anniversary.The exhibition examines the place the visionary occupies as the “HYPNAGOGIA”, defined as the experience of the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep: the hypnagogic state of consciousness, when mental phenomena such as lucid dreaming, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis occur. This “threshold consciousness” phase is in this exhibition linked with the visionary artist’s creative process which empowers the artist with shamanic powers. The works presented are implied to have been created while the artist was in a similar state of heighten awareness through their own pursuit of creative fulfillment.Some of the exhibition’s highlights will include works by America’s earliest Visionary artist Charles Dellschau (1830 – 1923) whose illustrated flying machine according to the late renowned art writer Thomas McEvilley “seem to foretell an ascent to heaven for which the artist’s soul has opened itself, partly through the activity of making his art. ” Dellschau has been called “an outsider art master in the same league as Adolph Wölfli, Henry Darger and Martin Ramirez” (Raw Vision magazine summer 2013).
Also included will be the notorious William Mortensen (1897 – 1965) masterpiece series of photographs “A Pictorial Compendium of Witchcraft” (illustrated at the top) from 1926. Several of these works have been widely reproduced in publications such as The Guardian, LA Times, Smithsonian Magazine, and Huffington Post among many others, and are considered to be quintessential examples of the artist’s work. This exhibition will be only the third time this series is assembled for public view.

The exhibition will also feature for the first time ever a selection of works by American visionary artist A. Fiorello (dates unknown), of whom we know very little except that he apparently lived in New York c. 1960 – 1980, and whose works were found in a New York antique shop. Fiorello produced painted plaster reliefs which depict some of the most visceral imagery in the cannon of Visionary art.

An expansive selection of the works of renowned “outsider” William Blayney (1918 – 1985) will be on view, some of which have never before been seen. Blayney was a self ordained Baptist minister who traveled around in his camper and gave sermons in the parking lots of shopping malls. The surviving paintings, which have been exhibited in several prominent American and European museums such as the Philadelphia Museum, The Newark Museum and the Museum of American Folk Art were used as his visual teaching aids.

The exhibition will also include a selection of esoteric ephemera such as a large banner from c. 1900 from the International Association of Rebekah Assemblies, a female auxiliary of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a selection of spirit photos dating from the mid 1800s, original books and plates from Jacob Bohme from the mid 1600s, an original copy of the book “Lectiones Memorabiles” from 1671, an “Anima Sola”, and a depiction of souls in purgatory popular in Latin American culture among many other surprises.

Image: Anima Sola Depiction of souls in purgatory, mid 19th Century