DMT-like Spiritualist Art of Augustin Lesage

Augustin Lesage, Title Unknown.

There is a fair bit of anecdotal and laboratory evidence that the DMT normally produced by the body has a few interesting functions. One of them is being a likely mechanism for the near-death experiences of light filled tunnels and full-life flashbacks in an instant. The theory is that serotonin in the brain undergoes a natural chain-reaction – breaking down into DMT. It’s pretty cool that nature has a built-in function for launching consciousness into infinity, and that it happens to be the same chemical found in Ayahuasca, which has traditionally been called ‘The Vine of Death’ (or The Vine of the Soul).

Perhaps some people are launched into an endogenous triptamine trans-finity sooner than the rest of us … like while still alive.

Meet Augistin Lesage, French trance medium and painter (1876-1954). His art has the meticulous precision of Paul Laffoley  mixed with the weird fractalizing architectural-organic flow of Louis Wain’s cat paintings.

Lesage worked in a coal mine, and in 1911 (maybe when the CO2 or kerosene fumes were particularly thick in the underground mineshaft?) he heard a voice which told him One day, you will be a painter“.
Soon after this experience he became involved with experiments in the old Spiritualist tradition of Automatic Writing. Basically it’s like using a pen as an Ouija board, you start writing and then mentally disconnect from the act and let the writing continue … sometimes crazy shit happens. People find surprising alternate personalities that write giant books or conduct new-age seminars, most of which totally suck!

Yep, Channeling is the step that happens if the automatic writing maintains a consistent form and personality. People who are frightened by their own turds like to call it “demon possession”, but that is making a LOT of silly assumptions. The same technique was also used by a many artists in that era to try and tap into their unconscious creativity. Anyhow, Lesage felt he was successful at contacting the “spirits”, and their message to him was clear & direct:

“The voices you heard were real.  You will be a painter.  Fear not, and heed our advice. You will find it ridiculous in the beginning, but we are the ones tracing through your hand. Do not try to understand.”

The article continues:

The voices proceeded to tell him which colors and brushes to buy, and where to order a canvas.  Lesage ordered a small canvas, but when it arrived, it measured three meters square.  He wanted to cut it into smaller pieces, but the voices stopped him.For the next two years, he came home from the mines every night and went to work, letting the spirits guide his hand.  He began in the upper right corner and gradually filled the entire canvas (which is now in Jean Dubuffet’s Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne).  The composition was built by filling in small areas at a time.  The spirits did not let him evaluate the work in its entirety:  part of the canvas remained rolled as they guided his hand.  ”It was like working without working,” the artist recalled.

The paintings Lesage created were huge, detailed and fascinating.  Prolific too, he produced around 800 of them.

They share a visual resonance with the often reported DMT visions of fantastic and unbelievably ornate architecture, dense vistas of cryptically purposeful temples-within-temples made of transparent jewels and cascading colors. I’ve seen those “places” on a few occasions, and it does make me wonder what was happening neurochemically in the minds of certain visionary artists such as Lesage, William Blake, Grant Wallace, or James Hampton & his posthumously discovered Throne of the New Millennium.

To be clear, I’m in no way convinced that these visions are views into objectively ‘real’ places in the conventional sense, yet they are highly consistent. You can inspect them closely and it is not dream-like. You can return another time and they are different but essentially the same. Like standing waves or cymatic patterns – they do have a certain type of reality to them, but it’s incredibly difficult to speculate on what the hell it means. Even if beings come out of these visionary realms and tell you what it means, that’s still not proof of anything but having had that experience. However, this uncertainty does not diminish the meaningfulness or value of the revelations one can have.

Lesage’s early art is compelling, with a fractally repetitive quality, a high level of organizational detail and clear visual rhythm.  In his later career the voices weren’t as active and he got heavily into Egyptian mythology. The effect on his painting style was more derivative and nowhere near as captivating as his purely channeled art.

What’s that? Listen closely …
disembodied spirits are advising you to read more about Augustin Lesage & see all the currently available photos at TRANSLINGUISTIC OTHER

(important note: Keep in mind that nearly everything I say about art is subjective. It is too easy to sound judgmental or absolutist when talking about art. Taste and preference vary. There is no “best” artist or musician: if you create art that expresses or does what you intended then you win. and If someone else likes it too, then you both win. We are all different in different ways for different reasons, and reciprocally we are all interconnectedly One for no reasons. )

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  • ultrafeel

    Wow, a very interesting story about this extraordinary painter. How sad that he is such an unknown artist. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  • ultrafeel

    Wow, a very interesting story about this extraordinary painter. How sad that he is such an unknown artist. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

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