The Wizard & the Moon

Contributing artists:

Raphael's painting Transfiguration depicts Jesus on the cross while a boy falls into an epileptic fit in the foreground. Epilepsy was originally called lunaticus, the Latin word for moonstruck. Nietzsche argued that the boy witnessing Christ's transfiguration was a model for how the viewer of paintings should behave. A painting is a transfiguration. Like Jesus resurrecting from his body into his spirit, a painting transforms pigment, fats and woven thread into an experience of beauty. A great painting reduces its audience to lunatics.

As Nietzsche also pointed out, the madness of art is formal. According to him, the Greek gods Apollo and Dionysus should be unified in the work of art. Apollo is the god of form: light, creativity, the sun, and so on. Dionysus is the god of formlessness: wine, orgies, and dissolution. The lunacy of art synthesizes this opposition. Like dreams, art gives shape to formlessness just as it deforms and dissolves the formal. Here, we locate the madness of art and its discordance as a singular representation on one hand or delusion and intoxication on the other.

The Western wizard or magician model originates from the mythological gods Hermes, Mercury, and Thoth. In each example, this figure is a lunar god. Hermes is responsible for communicating the messages of the gods to humankind. He is the revealer of hidden messages. He illuminates the dark like the moon illuminates the night. For the magician, the moon and its cycles performed a microcosm of the greater astrological theater. It was a part of the grand drama but also a contained expression of it. The magician is often labeled with a star and a crescent moon. The magician animates a hidden reality just as Hermes communicated it. He utilizes forces that are invisible to most.

The work of art is irreducible to its material. It is a spiritual presence ushered in through material means. In this sense, the artist has something in common with the mythical wizard. Both are familiar with a supra-sensuous paradigm of experience, which has become their task to tame and express. Art is a controlled madness. It is lunacy wielded consciously as a force.

Brendan Lynch's works in "The Wizard & the Moon" lightheartedly invoke these profound mythological paradigms to underscore how they persist in modern artistic forms. The frenetic assemblages and painterly atmospheres project a dreamworld that can absorb any stimulus, whether a child's blanket or printed images of ogres and ogresses. In them, the viewer is asked to see beyond the immediate material reality into the deeper imaginative circumstances of their presence. The found materials are composed with coherence like jewels in a crown. And, in the center of it all, Lynch renders himself as a slapstick floating wizard, eternally brushing the air, creating worlds, and like a moon, illuminating the dark.

By Grant Edward Tyler