Sigils & Signs: A Group Art Show
Observatory (543 Union St., Brooklyn)
On view through June 17th
The fibers of art and magic are woven so tightly together, it’s often said that they are one and the same. Images are imaginal pictures. When we see something, a constellation of synapses fires, associations swirl, and new thoughts are born. We are altered – and what is magic, if not this?
That said, there is a long lineage of artists who, quite literally, created spells via drawings on the floor, scrawls in books, lines cut into wood or stone. Though the featured players of this story are often English magicians from John Dee to Austin Osman Spare to Alan Moore, symbol-based magic can be traced back through the ages and across cultures. Germanic runes were carved into objects and later used as vehicles of divination. Hindu yantras and Buddhist mandalas are meditative, microcosmic diagrams meant to elevate the mind to the spiritual plane, and Kabbalistic letters are infinite layer-cakes of mystic meaning. The well-placed glyph can bless a birth, or curdle mother’s milk. A ring of certain characters can summon a demon, and the right number-grid can allow communion with the angels. Excavated from grimoires, handed down from teachers both living and dead, these are powerful emblems that act upon the fabric of the universe.
As such, the works in Sigils & Signs are agents of change. By using occult symbols from various traditions and times, each artist explores what it means to be a magician in the modern age: to emblazon sigils upon the energy field; to make magic marks. While these artworks may be appreciated for their aesthetic value – and oh how valuable they are – the viewer is invited to engage with each piece on the immaterial level. Whether protective or contemplative, refueling or revealing, these “wall spells” are cast with careful beauty and the intention to transform.