The Australian story: ‘Alex Grey art tour’, January 2011

An artist profile for The Australian. Excerpt below.

Grey area of spirituality’s personal connection

To look at the art of Alex Grey is to look inside oneself, literally and figuratively. The American artist is best known for his psychedelic paintings that combine human anatomy with allusions to infinite time and space.

Grey, 57, describes them as “visual meditations on the nature of life and consciousness”. They are intricate images depicting open-cut bodies, bathed in glowing light or what Grey calls “spiritual energies”.

“My work has been called visionary because I’m a painter inspired by glimpses into the subtle visionary realm, which is the source of all sacred art,” he says. “There is more of a spiritual motivation to the work than an intellectual rationale.”

With his long, ponytailed hair and dressed head to toe in black, Grey looks nearly as striking as his art. He has a warm, avuncular presence that may recall Gandalf or Albus Dumbledore: fitting, really, as Grey portrays himself as wizard-like, a man who strives to be seen as not quite of this world.

If his art looks familiar, it may be from the album covers he has designed for the American band Tool: 2001’s Lateralus and 2006’s 10,000 Days. The band is about to appear at the Big Day Out, and while Grey is not part of that line-up, he and artist wife Allyson are in Australia at the same time for a series of art workshops.

Grey has been a career artist since he was a teenager. At 17, he painted carnival funhouses; at 19, billboards. Two years later he got a job in the anatomy department at Harvard Medical School, where he was charged with preparing exhibits on the history of medicine and disease, as well as preparing cadavers for dissection by medical students.

His observations there informed his own art-making, leading eventually to Sacred Mirrors, a series of 21 life-sized paintings. It took 10 years to complete, but his job as a medical illustrator ensured that his skills were constantly in use.

For the full article, visit The Australian. More Alex Grey at his website.

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