As Above, So Below: Portals, Visions, Spirits & Mystics
Curated by Rachel Thomas and Sam Thorne, this exhibition features an exciting selection of modern masterworks and landmark contemporary art works by Hilma af Klint, Wassily Kandinsky, Steve McQueen, Bruce Nauman, Sigmar Polke, Cameron – many being shown for the first time in Ireland – and new commissions created specifically for this exhibition by Linder, Matt Copson, Stephan Doitschinoff, Alan Butler and others.
Opening with a Vedic spiritual blessing at 12.15pm on Thursday 13 April 2017, IMMA presents one of its most ambitious and compelling shows exploring how the spiritual endures in our everyday lives. In particular, As Above, So Below considers the role played by certain spiritualist and alternative doctrines, such as the occult or mysticism, in the creation of abstract painting from its origins to the present digital age. As Above, So Below resists becoming a comprehensive survey and is presented instead as a series of thematic chapters that each explore a different aspect of spirituality. The exhibition extends beyond the gallery space with new works made specifically for the IMMA site and a series of performances, events, talks and film screenings taking place during the exhibition. Pádraic E. Moore was curatorial adviser for this exhibition and focused upon the cultural cultural manifestations of 20th century movements such as Wicca and Thelema.
The arc of this exhibition spans a hundred years from the abstract masterworks of Kandinsky, af Klint and Kupka to contemporary work by Steve McQueen and Bruce Nauman and new commissions by Alan Butler and Linder among others. As Above, So Below resists becoming a comprehensive survey that traces the role of art and spirituality however. Instead, it presents perspectives on spirituality from a range of unique viewpoints in over 200 works, many of which have never been seen in Ireland before. It extends beyond the gallery space with new works made specifically for the IMMA site and a series of performances, events, talks and film screenings taking place during the exhibition. The exhibition’s historical gaze has a particular focus on female artists from the last century whose work remained uncovered until recently in the now shifting narrative of art history.
The title, As Above, So Below, echoes an often quoted saying, employed by artists, poets, writers and astrologers alike, as a means to describe and understand the mysterious but familiar world around us. To look at spirituality in such secular times is a provocation in itself, and the exhibition traces and questions the genesis of deep religious, mystical and occult beliefs that continue to shape the ideas of contemporary artists today. Writing in the 1960s, the critic Susan Sontag claimed that, “Every era has to reinvent the project of ‘spirituality’ for itself”, and through this exhibition IMMA asks what the project of spirituality looks like in 2017.
Transcending the limitations of what is traditionally perceived as ‘spiritual’, this exhibition embraces the occult, the otherworld, human consciousness, mysticism and ritual, creating a space to reflect and explore these gateways, or portals, to wonder.