Archetypal Images in Art

The Peter Coreth Collection

By Kate Reynolds (Berkeley)

The name “Museum Humanum” suggests the approach Peter Coreth has taken in presenting his collection to the public. He has displayed objects from many ages and many cultures. He invites visitors to speculate on the meaning of these artefacts by seeing them in a context that reveals the commonality of human experience. In his written statement, describing the mission of this museum, he says he believes in the old maxim that the fight for survival (for the human race) must be fought by intellectual means rather than by violent acts.

Museum Humanum The Female Vessel

Peter uses the phrase, “variegated expressions of human orientation,” in describing his collection. The orientation of which he speaks is grounded simultaneously in the external world of temporal events and the subjective realm of experience. The link between these two dimensions is referred to by St. Paul when he claimed, “as above, so below” and was rephrased by Goethe when he said, “as within, so without.”

There is no clearer evidence of a disorientation from this centre than our current existential crisis. Our world lacks its own image because we have lost an understanding of the coordinates that join these polarities. We no longer agree upon what is true and what is real. These agreements are provisional truths but they underlie all high cultures. In this collection we can see the evidence of these provisional truths, which are mythological. This is the reason why the collection has so much to teach us.

At present, the customary approach to studying art and cultural objects are similar to those of science. Science draws comparisons between things in horizontal lines like those in the categories of Linnaeus: one tree parallel to another, mammals more similar to each other than to molluscs. For scholars, art is studied by period, style, and within a specific culture. Contrary to the modern paradigm, the mythological mind makes vertical correspondences that liken an animal to a constellation, a planet to a colour or musical note.

A schematic representation of this theory could be pictured as a helix. It is a representation of the manifest universe. Time and space are round, seasons spinning and planets turning. All phenomena are serial, limited, and cyclic; each plane of existence reflected in the level above and below. The bridges between one thing and another do not have obvious links but come out of a tradition sunk deep in human consciousness; one that informs our individual and collective dreams (myth) and is called the Theory of Correspondances by Hermetic philosophers.

Here entities on one plane of existence correspond to the plane above through common rhythms; which is to say through a common modality or essential expression. The snake, whose sinuous movements correspond to a helix, the most seminal symbol for the life force in time, corresponds to a dragon on the plane above. The dragon is a hybred between biological and spiritual forces. It changes to an eagle on the plane above. The logic behind these links belong to a tradition long abandoned in the West, but still visible in all natural cultures. In megalithic and astrobiological cultures the mythic imagination forged links between animals and planets, musical instruments and implements of work, parts of the body and landscapes, cardinal directions and seasons. The nature of myth and these symbols are as inexplicable as consciousness itself.

It was for this reason that the orientation of the organic world of life and death was counterposed to the realm of the heavens for ancient man. In all the works of his imagination he looked for the blue print of these archetypes, for the form of the Sacred. The making of Art was not an existential exercise, but an attempt to find that which is unvarying and unchanging.

That has certainly been the quest of modern science. I would like to suggest that it may be more prudent to look to art for unvarying truths as has been done by Peter Coreth in this collection. For it is the intermediate zone between the inner and outer worlds that one can find what is constant to both. The language of this common field is art and myth.

Original Text can be found at the Museum Humanum’s Website

Don’t forget, ‘The Year of the Woman’ solo show by Criss Chaney, opens August 24th at 3pm. At Museum Humanum, Fratres 11, A-3844 Waldkirchen/Thaya, Austria. For more information please email criss@crisschaney.com.

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Places of Contemplation

The work showing at the Museum Humanum this August as part of the 2013 Kulturbrücke is about the human experience, spirituality and the subconscious. Throughout time and across cultures humans have felt the need to create religions, spiritual practices, and art to express their subjective and intuitive experiences. For the Musuem Humanum I am exhibiting work that incorporates the archetypal female form with artifact and cave imagery.

Glimmer Glass Art

Artifacts have a life of their own that span many human lifetimes. They can often be the only windows we have into another person’s life and how they understood the world. Can we really identify with a prehistoric person? They may have the very same basic desires for food, shelter, and clothing, and perhaps even self-expression, but their worldview would be so different. Can we ever view their possessions with the same understanding they did? They who may have made it and viewed it as a vital part of their life and survival, and us who hold it up high and revere it as valuable art?

Moving from the objects that people leave behind, to their stories and myths, we find caves playing a mythical role in society. Caves are closely tied with female sexuality and its life giving powers, they were considered to be the ‘wombs’ of ‘Mother Earth’. Mayans believed caves to be sacred, a place where the gods could move between worlds. In my work I use caves as a metaphor for the subconscious, and spiritual dimensions of human existence. With the shift to a secular society, science has replaced mysticism and has renamed the realm of the gods ‘the subconscious’. Spirituality, psychoanalysis, and art are all human endeavors to explore this hidden aspect of our nature.

Using the archetypal female form and its close associations with caves this exhibition explores a common and deep-seated intuitive attraction to these forms and the mysteries they present.

“The Year of the Woman” opens on August 24th, 2013 at 3pm, at the Museum Humanum, Fratres, Austria. Please email criss@crisschaney.com for more information if you would like to attend.

Museum Humanum, Fratres welcomes international Artist Criss Chaney for Solo Show

Window Glass Wall Art

As part of the 2013 Kulturbrücke, hosted by the Museum Humanun, Fratres, Austria, I have been invited to fill the gallery with as much artwork as I can. This years theme its ‘The Year of the Woman’, so I have created a dozen new pieces specifically for this show revolving around the theme of women, goddesses and caves, using my unique blend of glass and mixed media. The exhibition opens August 24th, and is free to all, but bring your wallets as this is a unique opportunity to buy some original artwork and support the Museum in its cultural activities and events.

Introspection

Here is my latest piece, its called Introspection. It was exhibited in the British Glass Biennale this year, and currently resides in the Creative Cohesion Gallery. It’s the largest and heaviest piece I’ve made so far.

 

Introspection is the first piece in a series which revolves around my fascination with caves. Some of the caves that have been discovered are beyond our wildest imaginings, like the Lechuguilla cave which contains some chambers with giant crystals, and others where every surface is covered with white crystals, the perfectly still and clear ponds are full of sulfuric acid, and when you shine a light into the chamber the whole thing glows and glistens.

The Mayans depended on a system of underground flooded caves for their fresh water. The cenotes where the lifeblood of the Mayan civilization and they believed caves to be sacred, a place where the gods could move between worlds.

Using the imagery of stalactites and stalagmites, my work explores the ancient interests in caves and the duality of existence between the material world and immaterial spiritual dimension of human existence. My interests also lie in the latest breakthroughs in quantum physics so while we know conceptually that space is not empty and that solid objects are mostly made up of empty space, we do not experience it as such. Reversing the two, negative space inside the cave actually becomes solid matter.

Using glass as a metaphor for empty space, the object calls attention to the shape of the space, and veiling or included elements allude to non-material possibilities that we are unaware of or unable to see.

The imagery of caves is a metaphor for undiscovered worlds or possibilities bringing into focus the fact that there are numerous unanswered questions about the nature of the universe an that there are infinitely more unasked questions about the reality we think we are experiencing, alluding to hidden human potential, and untapped realities yet to be discovered.