evgeny kiselev and the invisible landscape

PSYCHEDELIC ART is not eas­ily de­fined. Wikipedia de­fines it as "any art in­spired by psy­che­delic ex­pe­ri­ences known to fol­low the in­ges­tion of psy­choac­tive drugs such as LSD and psilo­cy­bin. The word 'psy­che­delic' means 'mind man­i­fest­ing.' By that de­f­i­n­i­tion, all artis­tic ef­forts to de­pict the in­ner world of the psy­che may be con­sid­ered psy­che­delic." Is that neb­u­lous enough for you?

"In com­mon par­lance, Psy­che­delic Art [gen­er­ally] refers to the art move­ment of the late 1960s coun­ter­cul­ture [and] were a coun­ter­part to psy­che­delic rock mu­sic. Con­cert posters, al­bum cov­ers, light shows, mu­rals, comic books, un­der­ground news­pa­pers, and more re­flected not only the kalei­do­scop­i­cally swirling pat­terns of LSD hal­lu­ci­na­tions, but also rev­o­lu­tion­ary po­lit­i­cal, so­cial, and spir­i­tual sen­ti­ments in­spired by in­sights de­rived from these psy­che­delic states of con­scious­ness." (Wikipedia)

While re­search­ing an ar­ti­cle on psy­che­delic art, I came across a lot of im­ages of con­tem­po­rary artists whose work is con­sid­ered in that genre. Most of their work looks ab­solutely noth­ing like the art that came out of the ini­tial psy­che­delic artists of the '60s.

And yes there were men and women who did work based on their LSD ex­pe­ri­ences in the '50s, but they were rarely rec­og­nized as psy­che­delic and that an­other story.

Most of these newer artist are con­sid­er­ably more pol­ished, more facile than their pre­de­ces­sors, and no one more so than Alex Gray, a highly suc­cess­ful artist known world­wide. He epit­o­mizes the mod­ern, pol­ished psy­che­delic artist. Alas, he leaves my mind un­ex­panded. As do most of the oth­ers.


Evgeny Kiselev: front cover of the dust jacket to Masters and Houston's book PSYCHEDELIC ART.

The artists as­so­ci­ated with the psy­che­delic art phe­nom­e­non of the Six­ties had a loose ap­proach to their work. The piece used by Robert Mas­ters and Jean Hous­ton for the dust jacket of their book Psy­che­delic Art (1968) is Isaac Abram's All Things Are One Thing (1966, above). 

The psychedelic Evgeny Kiselev

An artist whose work does in­trigue me is Evgeny Kise­lev. I could find lit­tle about the man, other than he is a na­tive of Saint Pe­ters­burg in the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion and is still quite young. He is suc­cess­ful as a com­mer­cial il­lus­tra­tor and as an artist. He likes con­tem­po­rary mu­sic.

Give his work a look-see at his web­site: Dig­i­tal Art / Il­lus­tra­tion / De­sign. The ufunk site also has a page de­voted to his work in the same mode in which I am ad­dress­ing it, "26 Psy­che­delic Cre­ations of Evgeny Kise­lev."

"The di­verse work of Evgeny Kise­lev os­cil­lates be­tween the rig­ors of sym­me­try and pro­lific ex­cess. Sev­eral com­po­si­tions be­gin with vivid tiled pat­terns that are mir­rored again and again un­til they can no longer be con­tained and are forced to push be­yond the con­fines of their logic. Oth­ers, emerge from a sin­gle out­line that man­i­fests the con­trolled law­less­ness of the work. Each piece achieves a com­plex­ity of color and layer that con­tin­ues to build in­fi­nitely into the space of the page cre­at­ing a warp­ing spa­tial depth."

The above is an un­cred­ited state­ment that has found its way onto many sites dis­cussing Kise­lev. He is ac­tive on so­cial me­dia in dis­play­ing his work and has a Face­book page. And the works dis­played are com­puter gen­er­ated.

"The rave move­ment of the 1990s was a psy­che­delic re­nais­sance fu­eled by the ad­vent of newly avail­able dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies. The rave move­ment de­vel­oped a new graphic art style par­tially in­flu­enced by 1960s psy­che­delic poster art, but also strongly in­flu­enced by graf­fiti art, and by 1970s ad­ver­tis­ing art, yet clearly de­fined by what dig­i­tal art and com­puter graph­ics soft­ware and home com­put­ers had to of­fer at the time of cre­ation.

Com­puter art has al­lowed for an even greater and more pro­fuse ex­pres­sion of psy­che­delic vi­sion. Frac­tal gen­er­at­ing soft­ware gives an ac­cu­rate de­pic­tion of psy­che­delic hal­lu­ci­na­tory pat­terns, but even more im­por­tantly 2D and 3D graph­ics soft­ware al­low for un­par­al­leled free­dom of im­age ma­nip­u­la­tion. Much of the graph­ics soft­ware seems to per­mit a di­rect trans­la­tion of the psy­che­delic vi­sion." (Wikipedia)

The ex­am­ples I se­lected be­low fit into a more con­ven­tional (if that word can be used — per­haps "clas­sic" is bet­ter) scheme of just what makes a work of at "psy­che­delic." I tried to avoid pieces that were too rep­re­sen­ta­tional, too com­mer­cial, or too ob­vi­ously af­fected by and can be seen as comic booky or science-fictiony.


In 1956, Humphrey Os­mond sent this silly to Al­dous Hux­ley, "To fathom Hell or soar an­gelic, just take a pinch of psy­che­delic," and a new word en­tered the world's con­scious­ness.



This is cur­rently my third fa­vorite work by Kise­lev and re­minds me of Yves Tan­guy un­der the in­flu­ence of ke­t­a­mine (re­ferred to as 'Vi­t­a­min K' and 'Spe­cial K').


Party Girl

This is one of his few straight il­lus­tra­tions and one of his few black and white works. It is also the first piece that one sees when one vis­its the artist's web­site. While I am not fond of the ti­tle, I see an In­dian maiden who sipped her Dar­jeel­ing un­aware of the fact that a friend had slipped 400 mi­cro­grams of Sandoz-grade LSD into the cup while adding sugar. For the first time, the young lady is grokking the world in which she lives through a pair of kalei­do­scope lenses.



From where — with­out or within?


New Sum­mer Pat­tern

And what psy­che­delic artist does not try his hand at a man­dala?



Seem­ingly a con­scious nod to the more play­ful, Pe­ter Maxx-ish as­pect of the psy­che­delic pop art of the Six­ties.


Tree Love

This has the look of a col­lage: I can al­most feel the tex­tures — Japan­ese rice pa­per, fab­rics, some oil paint, a lot of tooth in the Gesso — none of which are there. I would never have as­so­ci­ated it with trees with­out the ti­tle.



This is cur­rently my sec­ond fa­vorite work by Kise­lev and I as­sume the ti­tle is a ref­er­ence to everyone's com­puter key­board. I see a mind not ex­pand­ing so much as ex­plod­ing with new aware­ness. 


Coat Of Arms

While not my fa­vorite Kise­lev (al­though up there), this de­mands to be the fi­nal im­age on this page. I see Rick Grif­fin through H.R. Giger with a nod to the clas­sic man­dala form.


The In­vis­i­ble Land­scape

This is my fa­vorite work by Kise­lev and should re­quite no cap­tion­ing by me. See what you see.