Irene Wellm 2016.2web 2

Mundus Imaginalis


Irene Wellm


Galleries 5 & 6

30 November - 18 December 2016

Opening Wednesday 30 November, 6.30-8pm

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Sufi texts tell us that between the physical world and the world of abstract intellect lies another world: the world of the image, the mundus imaginalis. This term was coined by Henry Corbin, the 20th century theologian and philosopher used to describe a particular order of reality originating from ancient Islamic philosophy.

The Sufis wrote that the mundus imaginalis is the place from where all spiritual and transcendent experience derives. It is said to be the source of synchronicities, ‘psychic’ experiences and creative insights. This world penetrates our dreams and other visionary experiences, including the places we visit during deep meditation. Corbin describes this as ...a truly real though subtle landscape located in a third domain that is neither precisely spirit or matter, but lies somewhere in between the purely intellectual world of angelic intelligences and the sensible world of material things and participates in both. He found this world was spatially within a person’s body and also a distinct region of the cosmos.

Today, one might describe this field as the collective unconscious containing the archetypal forms of the psyche that are beyond the emotionally charged impressions of the personal unconscious. This aspect is what has drawn me into the making of art and the desire to find a fluent and forthright method that will communicate and share this imagined place.

This is what led me to begin creating large-scale works on paper, painted with gouache, three years ago whilst on residency in Leipzig, Germany. With the roots of the Grimm Brothers around me, I began expanding on the idea of the cut-out and the childhood game of paper dolls to communicate the many layers of identity in flux.

The works are usually figurative, patched and pasted together using, at first, digital collage. The subjects are male, female, animal, object - and usually a mixture of all. Eventually they are scaled up and painted almost life-size in monochrome, which serves to unite the complexity of the image.

The framework behind these ideas began with my early interest in the work of psychologist Carl Jung (1875-1961), writings of many post-Jungian psychologists, and my childhood love of fairy tales and mythology. The paintings are intentionally ambiguous, using playful and surreal concepts along with realist technique to create symbolic maps of the psyche.

Whilst painting these trompe l’oeil collages on paper, the opportunity to take things a step further arose with the one to exhibit here at Tacit with the idea possessing me to create a walk-in experience to feel being towered over, ‘walking the gods’. It is a chance to stretch my oeuvre, to play with ideas that have been playing with me on the periphery of my picture making days as I was working in my studio, having started to feel that I would like to do something more. It is a progression that has only fully seen the light whilst setting up in this gallery. It is a work in progress.

Irene Wellm, 2016.



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