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  • Lea Springstead

Psychedelic Art - Lecture with Isaac Abrams

Updated: Aug 27, 2019


Society has the unfortunate talent for reducing profound concepts to their capacity for monetary return. Capitalism has sadly infected our cultural perception of art, and delineated many artist’s pathway to obtaining a popular presence.


While the work of Isaac Abrams remains largely obscure on the mass cultural level, the effects of a dose of his work are undeniably powerful, and superseds the substances that inspired their creation.


Last night at Byrdcliff in Woodstock, NY, Isaac Abrams presented a brief slide show of his psychedelic oil paintings. During the 1960s, Issac took LSD and was inspired to create art from his psychedelic experiences. With a little help from Tim Leary, Issac began showing his psychedelic art works. Stylistically, the hyper-detailed execution of abstraction intermingling with uninhibited yet magnetically charged interplays of color, immediately grasps one’s attention and compels the viewer to question the reality of the paintings and the reality of one’s current dimensional form.


One of the questions of the evening that hung thick in the air was why isn’t Isaac Abrams more well-known? At the end of a lifelong career of creating pioneering masterworks of a new genre of art, why isn’t Isaac Abrams a house hold name, at the very least least within counterculture circles?


Commodification of the edge of human consciousness may be more of a challenge than the world is ready to tackle, but why have other psychedelic artists, like Alex Grey, achieved more of a known presence than Abrams has? Having been to Grey’s COSM, I can say that once a certain threshold of commercialism is breached, talk with God becomes cheap, institutionalized, conformist, and the individual is disempowered for the sake of worship.


Abrams appeared relaxed and genuine on stage, more concerned with the direct and transferable experiential significance of his paintings. There were no prints available for sale, and especially no bumper sticker versions of “The Goddess of Dark Dreams” (one of Abrams paintings that was inspired by a psychedelic vision of a powerful, gentle, female deity).


Applying a utilitarian response to the exploration of higher levels of consciousness is a largely unacknowledged challenge of psychedelic art and non-denominational spiritualism. Artists and energy workers alike are rightly desperate to escape the prison of the lower expressions of participation in capitalism, so in this dimensional plane they must commodify their art. The problem with commodification however, is that commodification dilutes the expression of the unknown.


The realms of consciousness that exist “above” our current station as sentient beings may be impervious to lower level attempts at utilitarian function, and perhaps asking the question “why aren’t these gorgeous works of art, these seductive apparitions, more well known in society?” is just like asking why the known laws of physics do not apply in higher dimensions.


The psychedelic experience taps into higher levels of consciousness, and here is where the common experience of feeling unified with the universe and fellow beings comes into focus. Lower levels of consciousness create the illusion of separateness, while higher levels of consciousness reveal the unified field of everything.


Without the pretense of a commercial propagandizing narrative, art is difficult to quantify and assimilate within mass culture. The psychedelic art form that Abrams pioneered was pure in the sense that he created these paintings because he was inspired by the idea of their existence, and not whether or not these images would ever get hung on drywall and really tie a room together.

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