'Numinous Flesh' exhibit opens at Bates College

The Bates College Museum of Art celebrates its season- opening exhibition, Numinous Flesh, paintings by Alex Grey, with a lecture by and a reception for the artist at 7 p.m. Sept. 5. The lecture will be in Room 104 of the Olin Arts Center, and the reception will be in the museum. The public is invited and admission is free.

Grey portrays the human body as translucent, revealing complex anatomical systems rendered with medical precision and interweaving these with glowing subtle energies. By using visual metaphors of transparency and inner light, his paintings allude to the process of becoming spiritually aware, holy and enlightened. Grey spent several years employed by Harvard Medical School in the medical museum and anatomy lab, preparing cadavers and studying the human organism. He came to see in the human anatomy a microcosm of the many systems and levels of order in nature. At Harvard, he also worked briefly with researchers in experiments investigating the body’s healing energies.

The subject of Grey’s art centers on the nature of consciousness and vision states. He sees himself as continuing in the tradition of visionary artists like William Blake, Pavel Tchelichew, Jean Delville and Gustave Klimt. Grey’s paintings point to the invisible spiritual world, which has been described by mystics. Grey applies his unique perspective to images of archetypal human experiences from birth to death. In doing so, he employs a variety of familiar religious symbols and figures, including the ubiquitous halo, the flaming aura, the chakra, Adam and Eve, Buddha-like figures, demons and angels.

The exhibition of 18, mostly life-sized works includes selections of narrative paintings, portrayals of prayer, meditation and shamanistic ritual and the artist’s seminal work, “The Sacred Mirrors.”

The museum’s lower gallery features two exhibitions which highlight the permanent collection. The first features works from the permanent collection, including works by Marsden Hartley, Rembrandt, Picasso and Matisse. The second features figure drawings. Regular museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sundays 1-5 p.m. The public is welcome and admission is free. School and other group tours are available by appointment. For more information call (207) 786-6158.

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