Gerard Wagner Plant Motif Exhibition (2008)
During the month of April this year I had the good fortune to be asked to look after the plant motif paintings of Gerard Wagner at the Waterloo Gallery in London. When I first encountered Wagner's work I realized that I had never seen paintings like this before; the purity and luminosity was unlike anything I had experienced in the past. I realized also that here was an artform that clearly illustrated the teachings given by Goethe and Steiner on the etheric world of plants. Goethe wrote of nature... "She is forever changing, and in her there is nothing standing still... each of her works has an essential nature of its own and yet, all comprises the one". In a way the same can be said of this exhibition, each of the plant motif paintings has an essential nature of its own, but the real Wagner experience is to stand amongst the many motifs and feel the collection as a whole; a mutually interpenetrating choir overtoning their colour in one gentle and beautiful chord.
Today, it is generally agreed amongst most of the high profile and well respected spiritual teachers of our time, that following the end of Kali Yuga, a new stream of spirituality is entering our civilization of the twentieth and twenty first centuries... The impulse behind it? To re-enliven and fructify our declining intellect, an intellect that is falling into decadence, an intellect that is reaching a state of atrophy through its conceit and its obsession with abstract semantics and the material sciences. The ability to truly listen and intuit is all but lost in the race to parade a personal analysis. In the years to come, Gerard Wagner will stand out as one who opened his heart and soul to the spiritual stream now entering the earthly life of mankind. He was so obviously an advanced and enlightened soul. His incarnation into the twentieth century and the emergence of a way of painting that has the ability to raise our conciousness into a world of archetypal form, shows as always, the perfect timing of the hierarchies who guide the cultural evolution of humanity. He was a man who truly united himself, through his painting, with the great world rhythms and by doing so has given us an entry into that sacred space, where the downward striving power of love and sacrifice unites with the earthly world of gravity and density. He seems to be poised at the point where the two streams meet... what he receives there, he transfers to the waiting palate and paper and as an audience we receive this gift of revelation too.
Wagner's early paintings are painted in strong, bold mineral colours. At times his depictions of the angelic hierarchies and the Mystery of Christ's life and death rival such giants as El Greco. It seems as though he chose to walk into the spirit world head-on and while there, he found the courage to carry home some of the most powerful images of the Turning Point in Time in modern religious art... and throughout the journey, colour holds and embraces the deed. In his later work he uses plant pigments to paint his plant motifs and the elementals at work. These paintings are enchanting, they radiate a gentle, warm truth and the continuously unresting, becoming and evolving world of the ether is captured on paper for all to see, enjoy and understand.
When colour reveals itself to us in a rainbow, we can look back and revere the moment when it first entered existence, when the angels began to move between the dark and the light and the primal material was born. Wagner experienced this hidden astral and ethereal world of colour and saw a way to carry it over into the artistic sense world for us all to partake in the celebration. The real difference in his painting was brought home to me when I visited a concurrent London exhibition on the inspirational and spiritual in art. The hard, acrylic, acidic shades and the sensual, fractal fantasia on show was like a jolt to the system after living in the high vibrational quality of Wagner's ether world for three weeks. The message is clear, Gerard Wagner has brought through something NEW, he is painting in the early hues of Jupiter*, he is a master craftsman who opened his soul to the archetypal being of colour.
So, in closing, I hear the question "How did the general puplic react to this man's extraordinary work?"... the responses ranged from delight and wonder to a shudder of uncomfortable recognition. The most widely used word in the visitor's book was "Uplifting" and uplifting these paintings truly are. If you didn't manage to see them this year, overcome any resistance or lassitude you may find in yourself and make the journey to see them next year when they visit these shores again.
* Jupiter in this context refers to one of the seven incarnations of Earth and not to the planet Jupiter, as explained in Steiner's "Occult Science".
Review by Susan Raven
CONTENT COPYRIGHT © 2008 SUSAN RAVEN