Visionary Art and Digital Photo Manipulation – Interpreting Reality through Dreams

The word ‘art’ in general can be concisely defined as ‘the creative expression of an individual who uses specific mediums to convey thoughts or emotions.’ Out of the myriad of artistic genres and sub-genres, one style which has always piqued my interest is the aptly-named Visionary Art.

Visionary Art, having precursor styles ranging from Modernism, to Surrealism, to Fantastic Realism, to the Psychedelic, although less well-known, has a definite vision, in that it focuses on the transcendental and spiritual inner life of the artist, rather than depicting more materialistic and contemporary scenes. It strains to capture the intuitive inner eye of contemplation, rather than day-to-day life, and portrays the painter’s own subconscious dimension and perception of an object, rather than the object itself.

Artists such as the engraver and poet William Blake (1757 – 1827) who claimed to experience sacred visions throughout his life, the Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau (1826 – 1898), who focused on spiritual and mythological imagery, as well as the Expressionist Morris Graves (1910 – 2001) are some of the few artists renowned to have inspired the movement of Visionary Art.

Another, more modern derivation of Visionary Art is what is known as Photomontage or Digital Manipulation. Here, the main medium is not the photo camera, as one might suppose, but the softwares and skills required to manipulate, edit, and create the illusion of an alternate reality within the photograph. Photo manipulation, which is used in marketing and publicity to change colours, sizes, definition and contrasts, is hereby developed into a create art-form – the digital artist modifies the element of one or more photos to create a unique viewpoint pointing the viewer to an alternate awareness.

Locally, one particular artist comes to mind, who has experience in both these two modes of expression. Gabriella Azzopardi, artist and photographer, has studied under various Maltese Masters and has exhibited her works publicly on various occasions since 2001. Being interested in the subject, I asked Gabriella some questions:

What made you interested in Visionary Art in particular?

Painting visionary and imaginative scenes involves an intrinsic feeling. It made it possible to see and to show others my own internal reality with open eyes.

Who are the artists you admire most?

Choosing from the many I admire – Albrecht Durer from the Renaissance period and Michael Cheval, a Contemporary Artist.

Do you consider yourself mostly a visionary artist or a photographic manipulator?

A visionary artist, as this definition can gather different visual artistic media.

What is the link between the two genres?

Both genres enable the artist to be infinitely creative, to transform thoughts into dreams and make emotions visual.

Gabriella Azzopardi’s artwork can be found at www.gabriellagallery.com.

She offers private commissions for figurative or abstract paintings, caricatures and personalised tattoo designs, as well as professional mounted prints, as well as a number of other services.