Last week I visited the extensive exhibition of Blake’s works at Tate Britain and it was literally a journey from heaven to hell opening the doors of perception.
My relationship with Blake’s work is old and was created randomly and accidentally, as the best relationships are. I got to know his paintings and engravings, in the Sahaja Yoga classes, as a prime example of an artist who captured the dark intricacies of human nature.
Later I studied the graphic strength of his work at the University (UFRJ) in Rio. And today, at my wife’s insistence, I live in London and every day I am inspired by the same hazy aura that once inspired Blake.
Even surrounded by the fog and uncertainty, Blake is incisive. He has his convictions and he materializes them in his art. The painting of the devil and the Pope in hell (scene from Dante’s Divine Comedy) illustrates well the subversion and criticism against the religious society of his time.
And like his truth, the lines of his work are visible and prominent. Blake’s work is very graphic. He does not seem to be interested in classical and scientific realism; he prefers expression and visual surrealism to illustrate the inner truth. The clear lines in his work make me imagine how interesting it would be to see a graphic novel in his style.
And speaking of it, to my great surprise, when I bought the exhibition catalogue, the afterword had been written by Alan Morre, one of the biggest names in modern comics.
The afterword brings a detailed description of ghosts seen by Blake coming down the staircase and following Blake to the backyard of his house. I’d love to write a comic about it one day.
When I look at my work today I see that I am very influenced by Blake’s work. He created his own mythology to discuss the world in which he lived. In “New World,” I use the same concept to create a myth of origin for American societies. Magical and fantastic elements permeate the creation of a world born of the conflict of three worlds to discuss how we can better understand each other.
Although we do not have as many armed and violent conflicts as in the New World era or the American War of Independence in Blake’s time, peace still seems far from being achieved. Today I think our biggest battle is a mental one. As if the marriage of heaven and hell were performed in our minds.
In his paintings and prints, William Blake seems to show a path. A beam of light on a dark, faded path, which we can walk guided by visions without obvious meaning and by our imagination.