2. Altar, 1972 - Candle, 1973 - Spinning (3 Fairies), 1974 Jan Kervezee

Mixed media on cardboard Courtesy of Collection Foundation De Stadshof, Museum Dr. Guislain, Ghent Photo: Aad Hoogendoorn

A burning candle oozes colour in mutating, mind-bending stripes, leaking light over a desert with two moons. Crystalline rows of houses with warping portals for doors zoom out of single-point perspective, fluttering in a kaleidoscope of trees, stars, and fluid waveform patterns. Shimmering temples rise, as if expanding upwards into the multiverse. This intensely psychotropic artistic journey is courtesy of Jan Kervezee (b. 1950), a visionary artist working with pens, pencils, ink, gouache, varnish and paint to create otherworldly renderings of his consciousness-raising experiments with hallucinogenic drugs.

Approached almost scientifically, Kervezee conducted drug-induced artistic experiments almost daily throughout the 1970s, “attempting to capture the images from his intoxication on canvas as directly and accurately as possible” (according to a short text on the artist by Yasmijn Jarram). The meticulous level of detail in his paintings show the hallmarks of this discipline and obsessiveness, driven onwards by the ‘automatic’ nature of his process: Kervezee’s psychedelic method required overriding the rational brain to let the hand formulate images subconsciously, or perhaps psychically. The resulting works feel like spiritual epiphanies or cosmic fantasies beamed in from another planet: a distant Xanadu that beckons us with palm fronts and pyramids on the horizon.

Text by Rosa Abbott

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