Thanaton III: The mysterious ‘living painting’ of Paul Laffoley
06.25.2013
10:12 am

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Art

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Paul Laffoley


 
If you are lucky enough to find yourself in London this summer, there’s still plenty of time to catch “The Alternative Guide to the Universe” exhibit at the Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery. The exhibit, which was curated by Ralph Rugoff, runs through August 26 and features several key paintings by visionary artist Paul Laffoley, including the piece generally considered to be his signature work, Thanaton III.

Laffoley’s unusual artforms can be categorized in several different ways: His architectural works which are comparable to schematics or blueprints; his inventions of seemingly far out sci-fi devices (keep in mind that everything Jules Verne dreamed up eventually came to pass); his plans for a working time machine and a house that can be grown from a single seed. The subset of his work that seems to baffle critics the most are the Boston-based artist’s mysterious and awe-inspiring “operating systems.”

Laffoley’s operating systems are paintings (and some other types of work on occasion) that are meant to be interacted with in the “theater of the mind,” as the artist puts it. Some are like meditation or yoga devices, something you would stare it or “breathe in.” One operating system instructs the viewer of the painting to touch it on handpads (as above) and pitch their consciousness into a kite allowing for astral travel.

With 1989’s Thanton III however, there is something going on that’s a little bit different, because it’s a painting that’s actually alive in a certain way, but’ll let Paul Laffoley explain it himself in the video.

This interview comes from my UK TV series, Disinformation and was conducted in 2000. Most of the time when this painting is hung in a museum, they have this video playing right beside it.

This isn’t the only television segment to be done solely concentrating on Thanton III, it was also singled out for appreciation in France by Otto on Monde5 during the big Laffoley exhibit at Palais du Toyko in 2009. [You’ll note that when a French person pronounces his surname, they are, in effect saying “Paul The Fool.” In the same sense that he last name Esposito (“the exposed ones”) indicates an ancestor who was orphaned, Laffoley would indicate genetic predecessors who were mentally ill or perhaps severely autistic. “La folies” = “the foolsish ones,” basically. This is something that Paul explained to me himself. Furthermore he is convinced that the “la folies” were the real-life artists’ models for the gargoyles on Chartres Cathedral, but that’s for another time…]
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Visionary artist Paul Laffoley: Sci-Fi Leonardo da Vinci
06.05.2013
02:34 pm

Topics:
Art
Occult
Science/Tech
Thinkers

Tags:
Paul Laffoley


 
For our readers in London—and there are quite a lot of you, so don’t fuck this one up (and tell all your friends)—next Tuesday at the Southbank Centre’s Hayworth Gallery, visionary artist Paul Laffoley will be giving one of his mind-bending lectures accompanied by a slide show of dozens and dozens of his elaborate paintings and drawings.

Let me state this clearly, London-based DM readers: Next Tuesday, you will have the rare opportunity to meet one of the most fascinating people alive on the planet today. I truly believe that you will be stunned, I repeat, stunned, by what you’ll see there that evening. Paul Laffoley’s a Sci-Fi Leonardo da Vinci, a Bodhisattva reborn as a mild-mannered Harvard-trained architect/artist/inventor.

In short, the man is a dazzling genius and I’m reasonably sure that you, London-based reader, yes, I am talking to YOU, here, don’t have anything better to do that evening. In fact, I know that you don’t.
 

 
From the Southbank Centre’s website:

An opportunity to hear artist Paul Laffoley, whose practice has been defined as ‘the conversion of mysticism into mechanics’.

Paul Laffoley works with texts and images to create new ways of thinking about time and space, dream and mysticism, magic and consciousness. He has also designed a time machine and a prayer gun.

His appearance, to celebrate the opening of The Alternative Guide to the Universe, is a unique chance to hear someone The New York Times recently hailed as ‘one of the most unusual creative minds of our time’.

You hear that? It’s not just me, it’s The New York Times, too… Miss this at your own later regret, truly. The lecture begins at 6:30.

The Alternative Guide to the Universe is curated by Ralph Rugoff and will be exhibited from June 11th to August 26th at Southbank Centre’s Hayworth Gallery.

There’s another major Laffoley exhibit going on at The Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. That show, Paul Laffoley: Premonitions of the Bauharoque, opened in April and will continue through September 15, 2013.
 

 
Below, an interview that I conducted with Paul Laffoley about his work in 1999 for British television:
 

 
Thank you Douglas Walla of Kent Fine Art in NYC

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘Alchemy: The Telenomic Process of the Universe’
02.06.2013
02:18 pm

Topics:
Art
Thinkers

Tags:
Paul Laffoley


Paul Laffoley, “Alchemy: The Telenomic Process of the Universe” (detail) (1973), oil, acrylic, ink, and vinyl lettering on canvas, 73 1/2″ x 73 1/2″

The gents at Imperium Pictures have put together this terrific short film of artist Paul Laffoley discussing his 1973 painting “Alchemy: The Telenomic Process of the Universe” in New York recently.

Paul Laffoley: The Boston Visionary Cell” is at Kent Fine Art LLC (210 Eleventh Avenue, 2nd Floor, Chelsea, Manhattan) and the show will be up through March 9th. It’s getting rave reviews from The New Yorker, Art Forum and The New York Times. You can download a PDF of the catalog here.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Paul Laffoley explains how to build a working time machine (and a house made entirely of plants)
01.18.2013
11:32 am

Topics:
Art
Thinkers
Unorthodox

Tags:
Paul Laffoley


 
As I have posted about here recently, there’s an exhibition at Kent Fine Art in New York of the work made by artist/inventor/architect Paul Laffoley during his residence at The Boston Visionary Cell, his enigmatic one-man, one-room think tank on the second floor of a staid Boston office building (He was evicted a few years ago when the landlord discovered that he been living there).

The show is up through March and I’ve heard from everyone I know who has seen it, that it’s an absolute stunner, a “must see.” If you’re going to be in the NYC area in the next few months, it’ll be worth the pilgrimage to Chelsea, I can assure you. Ken Johnson at The New York Times called it “an excellent introduction to one of the most unusual creative minds of our time.”

I’ve been to The Boston Visionary Cell and it was certainly one of the most eccentric dwellings I have every experienced. Obviously the home of a genius living in modest circumstances, the tiny space had neither windows, a kitchen, bathroom or anything more, really, than a sink and yet for decades, some of the most extraordinary artwork of our time was produced there.

Aside from several works in progress, some large easels and a drafting table, there were LOTS OF BOOKS, thousands upon thousands of them on every subject under the sun in stacks that were up to 5 feet tall. It was not easy getting a small TV crew into the room without knocking anything over, although we more or less managed. During a lull in the taping, I mentioned to Paul how I’d recently been trying to find a copy of Timothy Leary’s rare book Terra II without success, and he went right over to the stacks and plucked the book from near the bottom of one with the dexterity of a kung fu master, disturbing nothing.

In the clip below, from my 2000-2001 British TV series, Disinformation, you can actually see a little bit of the tiny, crowded, one room space where Paul Laffoley not only worked, but slept, for decades, his head down at his desk ala “Howard Roarke” in The Fountainhead. The reason you don’t see even more is that we had a shot with a depth of about 4 feet, I was practically sitting on Paul’s lap for the interview.

There is an extensive online catalog of The Boston Visionary Cell exhibit in PDF format that you can download here. You can also buy posters of Paul Laffoley’s work, including the image above (“Thanaton III, not in the NYC, but will be in the London show at the Hayworth Gallery later in the year) at the Kent Fine Art website.

KENT FINE ART, 210 Eleventh Avenue, Second Floor, NYC (212) 365-9500

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Paul Laffoley: Ambitious retrospective of visionary artist opens tomorrow night in NYC
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Paul Laffoley: Ambitious retrospective of visionary artist opens tomorrow night in NYC
01.03.2013
09:50 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Paul Laffoley
Kent Fine Art


Alchemy: The Telenomic Process of the Universe, 1973. Oil, acrylic, ink and vinyl lettering on canvas, 73 ½ x 73 ½ in.

If you live in NYC—or anywhere near the city—there’s going to be a unique event tomorrow night that many Dangerous Minds readers will probably want to attend, a rare “evening with the artist” that will open a new retrospective survey of Paul Laffoley’s artwork at the Kent Fine Art gallery in Chelsea. The talk will take place Friday, January 4th, 6 to 9 p.m.
 

 

The Boston Visionary Cell, founded by Paul Laffoley in 1971, was based on the model of an artists’ guild. Although there have been numerous presentations of Laffoley’s work over the past decade, the Boston Visionary Cell has never been examined in the context of his life’s work. It is a crucial piece in understanding Laffoley’s methodology. As stated in its founding charter, it was created “to develop and advance visionary art”:

“We . . . believe that the evocation of the mystical experience by means of symbols, which has functioned as part of the intentioning process throughout the course of human history, is the intended direction of evolution that becomes most expressive through visual art during those periods in history that are characterized by rapid change, e.g., the twentieth century, which has seen a series of movements from the Modern era to the Post-Modern era, finally culminating in the Bauharoque era.”

Our current exhibition extrapolates on the mission of the Boston Visionary Cell as it has related to Laffoley’s production over the past forty years. An extensive online publication will accompany the exhibition.

That catalog in PDF format you can download here.

KENT FINE ART, 210 Eleventh Avenue, Second Floor, NYC (212) 365-9500
 

Xanatopia, 1995. Ink, gouache, vinyl lettering, and collage on board, 30 x 30 in.
 

Anthe Hieronymus Box Two, 1999-2003. Serigraph inks, aluminum, gold and copper wire, mahogany, blood, glass. No. 5 from and edition of 6, 25 x 25 x 3 in.
 

Below, in this extended clip from the Laffoley’s Odyssey documentary, you can see inside The Boston Visionary Cell, the one-room office space where Paul Laffoley lived and worked for three decades.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Paul Laffoley in Paris: Chasing Napoleon
11.17.2009
09:53 pm

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Paul Laffoley
Kent Gallery

image
 
If you live or find yourself in Paris this holiday season, you must visit the first big Paris show of artist Paul Laffoley at the Palais de Tokyo through Jan 17, 2010. There is also a new Laffoley poster from the event and it’s amazing, I got mine in the mail yesterday. Proceeds from the poster sales are 100% dedicated to the costs of completing photography and printing of the Paul Laffoley Catalogue Raisonne currently being put together by Douglas Walla at Kent Gallery in New York. There is a lot of work so it’s a huge undertaking that will be spread across several volumes. I think it’s what’s needed before the public at large finally catches on about what a genius we have in our midst.

You can buy a Paul Laffoley poster here. Makes a great Christmas present!

image
Paul Laffoley in Paris.


image
The gallery at Palais de Tokyo.

 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion