ALTERED STATES OF PAINT, DCA, Dundee, 2008
Angela de la Cruz
Taking its name from the 1980 Ken Russell film Altered States, in which Edward Jessup (William Hurt) undertakes a series of extreme sensory experiments to find life’s meaning, this exhibition is inspired by the idea that certain paintings can promote a visionary experience in the viewer. This notion of the gallery as a gateway to other forms of perception is echoed in Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception (1954) when he states ‘The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out’.
The exhibition is also rooted in the context of a Scotland in which emblems of a quasi- mystic, neo-pagan landscape surface regularly in fact and fiction – Summerisle from The Wicker Man, the legends of Loch Ness and in particular Aleister Crowley’s Boleskine House. Another considerable influence is the newly published novel Sway by Zachary Lazar that fictionalises the real life exploits of the late 60s milieu of Kenneth Anger, Bobby Beausoleil and the Rolling Stones. Overall the show presents paintings in the gallery in ways that respond to the canon in different ways but always in a rebellious, spirited and playful manner. The artists are all at different stages in their career but there are many crossovers as well as contrasts in the formal and conceptual aspects of the work as well as in the motifs used.