Transcendental Surrealism in Visual Arts and Modern Era

Orthos logos team September 2019

| Reading time : 14 min



Issue :September 2019


A discussion with the visual artist-architect Mr Giorgios (Gio) Vassiliou

(Artwork by Gio Vassiliou: The return of Odysseus -the decisive instant/oil on canvas /110x70cm)

A new concept of Surrealism that carries the vision of a man free of his limitations and capable to observe the cosmic becoming and his own self as well! The Concept was internationally presented by its initiator Giorgos (Gio) Vassiliou who calls it Transcendental. The very first presentation of Giorgos Vassiliou’s ideas took place at the Historical Archives-Museum of Hydra-Greece/IAMY.

This new concept, as its initiator says, is an evolution of the classic Surrealism of the early 20th century.

«I asked a child holding a candle:

Where did your light come from?

He immediately turned it off and told me:

If you tell me where it went I will tell you

where it came from!»

Poem by Hasan of Basra

Giorgios (Gio) Vassiliou:

AN EYE FOR THE TRANSCEDENTAL SURREALISM (b. Athens 1970) . Is an international and profound highly promising visual artist, known as the founder and inventor of Transcendental Surrealism in visual arts. He studied Architecture at Westminster University (London) and Life Drawing.He has been involved with arts (painting & poetry) since his childhood and has presented his works in important art galleries in Athens and Greece.

Many prominent Greek art historians have written official critics about the significance and importance of his work, such as: Dr Stelios Lidakis,Dr Georgios Prokopiou, Athena Schina, M. Georgousi and others. During his years of artistic research and development, he gradually developed and presented his own artistic aproach , a new proposal in the visual arts, the Transcendental Surrealism. Artworks of him can be found in major Private Collections such as the Historical Archives-Museum of Hydra and many more…

He is author at the greek progressive magazine ORTHOS LOGOS and he often publishes official comments, in worldwide respectable magazines such as SciTechToday, The Conversation Oxford University and others.

During his deep and profound research in many scientific fields such as: psychology, mathematics,, pure physics, astronomy, history of visual arts, theology and religion, he has been established as a respectful scholar and researcher internationally. Of course all these profound results, emerged from his individual researches, are embodied into the philosophy and theory of Transcendental Surrealism in visual arts. He is a member of Associazione Clam International-Taranto-Italy.

(Painting of G. Vassiliou: Collecting the quintessence of life/oil on canvas /135x100cm)

We all know, says Mr. G. Vassiliou, that special conditions give shape to each era, giving it a distinctive character. These conditions give birth to this being-identity that directs the achievements of a certain historical period. These same conditions manifest certain needs and set different goals.

In the 21st century, the concept of a new Surrealism has also to expose things in a different way; not by daydreaming or associative thinking, but by using the transcendental element.

So, behind the Concept of Transcendental Surrealism, a primal idea is hidden, which inspires its following vision. Here, in this new exposition, we focus on the vision surrounding the main idea.

A primal idea clothes itself and comes to light. The garment, in its externalization, takes breath and substance. The subjective nature of a vision is called to manifest, to be realized and exposed as a real object. It is exactly the same with the concept of TS; it descends from its subjective heights and lands on the visible world.

The purpose of a vision is to travel us to unknown destinations and to widen our perception. But, as the vision contains its “flight”, it has to contain also the other two phases: the “take off” phase and the “landing” phase. Only under this rule can we have a vision of real value – when it reflects in its complete cycle the cosmic procedures of birth, life and death.

In his own concept vision, G.V. hopes the aforementioned condition to be met, in order to provide a vehicle reliable enough for us to travel to the regions of art, self-knowledge and life.

Besides, it is known that “Art follows Life”, but often the order is reversed. In the TS Concept, the idea of logical time and of causality collapse because future turns to face the present and the past. Let’s, now, have a glance of the necessity and usability of TS in visual arts of our time, where it historically belongs. Firstly, I have to make a reference to the transcendental element (TE), which is the main content of TS.

By its very definition, the TE is based on a conception that traverses the limits of our own world, a higher degree of perceiving things. While its application is in the here and the now, its very nature is beyond the material world.

And I mean the subtle and refined factor that makes our perception broader; nonetheless what we call transcendental has to do with things beyond our mere grasp, this very something that expands our observations to other dimensions.

Imagine a limitless horizon-line which, while we move towards it, it expands, revealing new areas of the visible and invisible light spectrum.

In the history of humanity there were glimpses of the TE, starting even from the primitive period of man and reaching up to our own time. Homo Erectus understands natural phenomena, the sun and the stars, as powers that are beyond him. He starts to grasp the TE and, finally, approaches the divine factor that surpasses everything…

There, somewhere at the core of history, the seeking of transcendental starts in the human race. The TE seems that always co-existed with the religious or theological aspect of man, as the only way to be expressed. Through TS we acknowledge the TE as part of the human nature. In some way, we are also made to act not only logically, mentally, emotionally but transcendentally as well. And I make myself clear, for the aforementioned conclusion; man seems to be made as a building of many floors; his consciousness dwells only in one or two of the lower floors. Its transcendental nature can be found only in the upper floors. It is a matter of decision to move up there, so as to make a use of these higher floors! These are part of our house to, so we’d better use them, at last. Furthermore, if we say that the ground floor is our basic and instinctive state of life, the first floor is connected with our feelings and dreams, the second floor with our thinking processions and, moving further upwards, we have the transcendental self. In other words, we have to make the effort of moving upwards and explore these upper floors of our existence. And this could be seen as our destiny as a species!

At all times in Art and Letters the transcendental was, with glimpses, present in quite a few works. It is of worth to mention The Gilgamesh Epic, Iliad and Odyssey, the Sufi poetry, the Madonna of the Rocks by Leonardo Da Vinci, and we could continue with many more…

But also during late 19th and early 20th centuries we can see works of the like frame of mind: St John of the Cross by Dali, The Mad Pomegranate Tree by O. Elytis, Thus Spake Zarathustra by F. Nietze and The Ring of the Nimbelung by Richard Wagner. I have also to mention the contribution of Science to the Transcendental with main ideas as Spirit, Universal Consciousness and the abolition of the Law of Causality.

According to my opinion and personal observations, the most obvious scientific notion concerning the transcendental is the Minkowski diagrams representing the four-dimensional space-time continuum. Minkowki’s diagrams complete Albert Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, exposing the close connection of space and time. They underline, with the most emphatic way that, in the universe of Relativity where we all live, move and have our beings, space and time do not exist without each other! It is the same with the human microcosm and of the TE. Human factor and TE are connected to a unity that we have to discover and understand for ourselves.

Minkowski Diagram

Let’s have a closer look at Minkowski’s diagrams where, apart from the space and time cones, they also include the factor of “elsewhere”. That “elsewhere” is the undefined but existing factor.

Can we suppose that the role of this ‘’elsewhere’’ is connected with the hyper-logical or transcendental element?

In order to complete the first level of approaching the TS, I have to make some references concerning our age and how the transcendental is received. Our century is considered to be not only the Age of Speed but the Age of Stress as well. The transitory and the fleeting are present, as never before. During this era, the “current God” or the “God in fashion” seems to be represented by money and all things connected with it.

The existing systems that govern our lives have their own laws and seem to be penetrated by a main factor which, as a divine presence, commands them. We all want to be the favored of the Current God, because he provides the well being to his faithful. As for glory (remember the well-known saying: money many hated, nobody hates glory), I have to say that today, given the power that money has, even glory can be provided, or at least the glam of it.

Clarity from the blur-Collection by Giorgios Vassiliou

This Current God seems to have become quite overgrown, in his absolute domination over people’s attention. It seems that the cosmic scales are tilting a lot and a new factor is needed for balancing the human-world system.

At this point, I have to emphasize that money provides power only when a person possesses it in sufficient quantity; the factor of quantity is in desperate need when someone seeks “nowadays happiness”. The amount of money that circulates through the globe can be distinguished through the quantity of blood that runs through the veins of a human being. But, I keep on asking, where is the factor of quality to match the one of quantity? The second balancing factor can only be quality, but it seems to be absent most of the times. And we must not confuse quality with anything else.

Quality is quite different; it is like salt that gives a better taste to a meal, or the aroma that enlivens the atmosphere. It is a refined and subtle factor, therefore something difficult to meet in the material world of quantity, in which we live.

It seems that quality is not to be found except only through struggle. This is its main character. Is quality the denominator in this cosmic fraction of the modern era?

Bouquet of flowers in overflowed liquid vase -oil on canvas – 60x60cm

All these elements in the course of years created a certain need inside me. My personal amassed quantity factor was seeking its complementary quality. Finally, I felt that time had come for this esoteric event to manifest. Choosing the vehicle of Visual Arts, which directly concerns the human eye, was the way of least resistance for me. Furthermore, it’s obvious that there was a historical necessity for the presentation of the TE in a structured visual form concept and philosophy.

The following step is to explain why the visual movement of Surrealism was chosen to assist, in this trip, the TE. Surrealism is, by definition, a higher level of reality, the level of everyday perception and action. The movement appeared in the early 20th century by its main contributor, Antoine Breton and his circle (Dali, Ernst, Magritte and others) and derived from Dadaism. It was based upon three main factors to express a new, for that particular time, approach to being-reality. These elements are: (a) the dream element (b) the associative thinking and (c) the automatic writing. These three factors represent different perceptions of the real. The received impressions come not from the physical world but from a current of perception that runs parallel to the life-current.

A change in the way of perceiving takes place; from the real to a half objective level through these points of reference which we mentioned just before. These three factors, on which Surrealism was based, stand outside from our material world. But the three factors of surrealism belong to a half-conscious or subconscious nature, diminishing the participation of the concrete mind which is the requested in our subject.

In other words, I don’t decide myself when or what I will see in my dreams or even when I will have thought associations! These happen unconsciously inside me and I have no control over them. The necessity for a higher form of Surrealism to appear is more apparent than ever.

Thus, my personal studies and observations lead me to the formation of TS, which combines all the aforementioned elements in a cohesive concept for the first time in the Visual Arts and in human thought.

Of course, we will have to discuss a lot on the subject in future presentations of the same concept.

Water’s Butter-flower – oil on canvas

– 60 x60 cm

As a conclusion, Giorgos Vassiliou testifies from his heart that TS starts just now its long journey in the ocean of the human history and has a lot of destinations to go and havens to visit. The artist, personally, wishes we all to meet at the cross points and know each other not only in the real but also in the transcendental…          

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