That Oceanic Feeling

Erik ReeL painting
Erik ReeL, opus 1742, acrylic, 2013

Q: So, for you, it’s all about internal experiences?

ReeL:  Mostly, but not necessarily.  Most days when I walk to my studio, I go by the ocean. I see the ocean, with the sand, the sea,  the sky. It is a very specific spatial and visual organization.  That has influenced  my work. Especially the spatial organization.

Non-objective internal experiences can 

influence me as well. I am a vivid dreamer and have considerable recall of my dreams. This influences my work.

But the real secret, if you can call it a secret, behind my “work”, is that I am basically an ecstasy junkie. Not the drug, the chemical. But the state. Like Dali said, ” I am drugs.”

I like to get into and stay in for as long as possible an ecstatic state. Daily.  Almost all my painting is done while in an ecstatic state.

I realized quite young that I had a considerable ability to do this.  I’ve met people who consider themselves quite knowledgable in this sort of thing, who work a lot in that kind of world, comment on my ability to do this and that I’m more like this drunken mystic. In their words, more or less, not mine.

Q: Do you consider yourself a mystic?

ReeL: If I am, then mysticism has nothing to do with any religion or what most people would call spirituality.  It’s a state.  It’s a very primal and immediate thing. It gives you access to your own cognitive processing in a unique and highly creative  way. It allows me to paint in a way I would not otherwise paint. At this point, I can get into that state by simply painting. I’ve also done it running or with dancing or sex. That is  tantra. Repetitive movement helps. Makes it easier to access and trigger.

Q: So do you mean like the ecstatic experience that is part of a lot of religions?

ReeL:  I’d say, most of what you’ll read or hear, or  people will talk about all this is nonsense. You have to experience it directly.  On your own.  In a way it is inherently anti-religious. Religions require community. What I’m calling ecstasy, in my experience, requires no community, it requires you to be alone, to be on your own. Ironically you gain awareness, momentarily, of the whole world.  You are hyper-connected. It’s very addictive.

I  suspect the brain chemistry involved deals with some of the same chemistry and pathways that addicting drugs use, and drug users use to mimic this state. I’ve never seen nor have any evidence that anyone can artificially reach this state, take a drug and get it.  It’s totally natural. I think the human psyche at some basic level would like to be in this state all the time. That it is a drive within all of us to be in it.  My painting will certainly help you get there if you want this. Drugs won’t. They are a false path on this count.

My paintings could be seen as sign posts to routes to ecstasy.  But I don’t want to emphasize or promote this approach to my art, or this aspect of things. This all has more to do with how I generate the art. But it can be used by viewers as well. But I don’t want that to be what people come to it for. No guarantees. There is nothing that guarantees anyone will be able to get anything out of any of this. What I am saying here. It probably should not be said.  If anyone runs across this part of the interview then they’ve just chanced upon something that is best unsaid, unseen, unknown.  And once known, forgotten.

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