- What is psychedelic art?
- Psychedelic art elements
- Origins of psychedelic art
- 3D psychedelic art
- Modern psychedelic artists
When you hear the words “psychedelic art,” what pops into your mind? The terms “psychedelic” and “art” conjure images of fluorescent mushrooms, acid rock posters, and tie-dyed objects. But psychedelic art is so much more than that.
What is psychedelic art?
Psychedelic refers to any visual display or art form which draws inspiration from psychedelic experiences and hallucinations. These psychedelic experiences are triggered by the ingestion of psychoactive substances such as LSD and psilocybin.
The term “psychedelic” means “mind-altering.” By that definition, psychedelic art refers to artistic efforts depicting the inner world or the psyche.
Psychedelic art has always been political in nature. They’re fueled by the 1960s counterculture and serve as the counterpart for psychedelic rock music. At its height, it’s not surprising to see posters, album covers, light are, mural, comic books, and underground newspapers which not only depict kaleidoscope patterns but also reflect political, social, and spiritual stories.
Psychedelic art elements
Psychedelic art can be easily identified by the presence of these elements:
- Metaphysical and surreal subjects and landscapes
- Kaleidoscopic, paisley, or fractal patterns
- Highly contrasting bright colors
- Entire surface filled with intricate detail (also known as horror vacui style)
- Morphing of objects
- Spirals, concentric circles, and illusory images
- Innovative warping and rearrangement of negative and positive spaces
Origins of psychedelic art
Psychedelic art is triggered by the different states of consciousness produced by psychedelic drugs. Elements of psychedelic art are similar to those seen in surrealism which are obtained through deep inspiration.
Surrealists takes inspiration from the observance of dreams. Psychedelic artists use psychedelics to induce hallucinations.
Psychedelic art first appeared in literature. They were penned by writers who are involved in Surrealism Writer Antonin Artaud put his peyote experience on paper in the book “Voyage to the Land of the Tarahumara.” “Miserable Miracle” was written by Henri Michaux to chronicle his experiments with psychedelics – mescaline and hashish. And of course, “The Doors of Perception” by Aldous Huxley still remains as the literary authority on psychedelia.
These publications were followed by the popularity of LSD and other psychedelics to produce states of altered consciousness. These substances became the core of the psychedelic art movement. Psychedelic drugs were used to inspire and to induce artistic expression.
1966 to 1972 saw the peak of the psychedelic visual arts. Most graphics showed a strong color palette with contrasting colors, intricate patterns, and kaleidoscope swirls.
As the psychedelic art movement progressed, other artists started adapting the artistic style. These artists include Peter Max, Mati Klarwein, Pablo Amaringo, Roger Dean, and Robert Williams.
Spirals, concentric circles, and a repetition of motifs or symbols soon became prevalent on different visual arts. Certain exotic shapes such as paisleys became for frequent.
Comic book artists also started incorporating psychedelic art elements. They initiated an underground genre of comic book art which was later known by the name “underground comix.” Psychedelic comic books are satirical and exhibit psychedelic elements.
Psychedelic art will forever be associated with music. Many posters for music festivals like Woodstock incorporate psychedelic art. Bands like The Who and the Jimi Hendrix Experience used psychedelic art on their album covers.
3D psychedelic art
In the digital age, the computer has allowed artists the ability better expression of their psychedelic visuals. Technological innovations have led to the development of fractal generating software which gives an accurate representation of psychedelic hallucinatory patterns. Most importantly, 2D and 3D software allow artists to manipulate images and directly translate psychedelic hallucinations.
None other than Dr. Timothy Leary has hailed the digital revolution as the new LSD!
Even the 1990’s rave moment was fueled by the development of new digital technologies. The resurgence of psychedelic art influenced the 90s rave movement.
Simultaneous with the rave movement, new mind-altering drugs were also developed. The most prominent among them is MDMA, more popularly known as Ecstasy. These new psychedelics became fertile ground for artistic exploration because they possess their own unique characteristics which affect the artist’s state of mind.
Modern psychedelic artists
Psychedelic art has been existing for as long as people have been using psychedelics and putting paint on paper. While the psychedelic art movement did reach its peak during the 60s, it is far from over. There are still thousands of psychedelic artists all over the world. Here are some of the most well-known psychedelic visual artists of the modern world in no particular order.
Alex Grey. Alex Grey is one of the most popular psychedelic artists. He has the ability to illustrate images from his psychedelic visions. Alex Grey is set apart from his peers because of his technical skills. Every square inch of his canvass reflects his meticulous work and decades of experience.
Andrew Jones. Also going by the name “Android” Jones, he is one of the world’s leading digital psychedelic artists. With his experience in creating images for film, fashion, and gaming, Android Jones has transitioned into designing for music festivals and bands. His work has been featured on album covers of artists such as Beats Antique, and Sporeganic.
Justine Guse. No one can dispute Justin’s talent as a digital artist. He is known for producing stunning fantasy hybrids. Justin’s work combines digital patterns and shapes with the organic spiritual elements of the psychedelic experiences.
Tokio Aoyama. It’s hard to find multi-faceted artists these days and Tokio Aoyama combines metaphysical, spiritual, and music themes. Her talent has led her to be commissioned by clients all over the world.
Andy Thomas. Thomas’ work melds nature and technology. He takes photos of plants, insects, and machines. He then composites them artificially in various 3D programs. His process creates symbols of mankind’s corruption of the natural world.
Carey Thompson. Carey paints wildly colorful psychedelic visions which contain elements of spirituality, biology, environmentalism, and global peace. His work includes large-scale sculptures and bio-constructions for music festivals and spiritual gatherings.
Justin Bonnet. Bonnet is a new artist on the scene. He is known to push the boundaries of what digital manipulation can do. While he is not yet a full-time artist, his work definitely deserves more attention from the art world.
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