The Myth of the Artistic Genius
According to Jean-François Lyotard, the end of utopian visions and the great stories was signalled by the collapse of the communistic systems and the beginning of Post Modernism. What does visionary art mean, and can every artist to some degree be defined as visionary? Works of art are perceived as visionary by society when they can be distinguished by an innovative nature that radiates a certain liveliness. The perception of the artist as a visionary is inextricably linked to the great story of the genius artist. Although most of these great stories came to an end last century, the myth of the genius artist hasn’t lost its lustre. This seemingly indestructible idea of the artist as a visionary or genius is rooted in the 16th century. When the church was no longer the sole employer, artists started signing their works, which led to the awakening of self-awareness and confidence of the individual. In the public eye, an artist was born with a certain Ingenium, meaning that not all artistic skills could be learned but were a divine gift. This gift was no daemon or gift from above, no it was the artist who was the sole source of originality and inspiration. From then onwards, the artist was perceived, in analogy to God, as a divine creator who could capture things to come on canvas, stone, or whatever medium was used to channel this Divinus creative force.
Visionary art aims to transcend the visionary world to portray or illustrate a broader perception of reality which also includes metaphysical and esoteric subjects or experiences of the artist. A reflection of what is beyond our visual reality is channelled by the artist through a divine force or altered state of being. Revealing a broad spectrum of new realities that each are translated by the distinctive characteristics of the artist’s mind onto the image surface. Symbolism, Cubism, Surrealism, Fantastic Realism but also Outsider Art can all be described as Visionary Art as the artists’ subjects resulted out of a profound mystical, spiritual, and inner awareness.