Critical Trilogy

a critic's millennial journey

AARON OLSHAN: GENIUS WHOSE TIME HAS COME

"Guardians" by Aaron Olshan, mixed media 2009

The contemporary New York art scene this week became a theater for commercialization to the point where the rarity of the authentic art-ti-fact has been obscured under the capitalist aim of commodity as a shared social experience.

Have we truly forgotten the original intent of art within a civilization — to transmit a truth that cannot otherwise be seen by the human collective?  What of the Promethean spirit, who undergoes great personal risk to  transmit this truth?  Isn’t this the reason why, in times of confusion like today, the fissures in the social fabric create the openings for genius to deliver its gift?  From where and how does such original creative spirit emerge?

"Emergence" by Aaron Olshan, mixed media 2009

Genius hides in plain sight.  Why is this truth revealed again and again — even in this age of 24/7 media?  The answer is simple; until tapped by the need of the collective, the individual carrying this original vision has no outward function.  Rather, they are held underground, as if in a straightjacket,  to prepare for the immensity of the task which awaits them.  If they are artists shaping their material into a radical new vision, the work itself reveals the process of breakthrough and becomes the essential artifact of the crucial time of change.

The Guardians provide this gift of time…

"Gift of Time" by Aaron Olshan, mixed media on wood, 2009

From this perspective, fissures in the social fabric await a new structure…

…to a radical awakening.  This is a physical, tangible reality in my beloved Chile — where I imbedded myself to about the quantum wave collapse last year.  The nation formed between two seismic plates did so under the sign of Aquarius.  Where Chile goes “Awakening” into the New Paradigm, so goes the world.

"Awakening" by Aaron Olshan, mixed media on wood, 2009

The period marking the close of a decade of transition — from the death of postmodernism to the rise of a holistic new movement —  was crucial in separating the chaff from the wheat, the old paradigm from the New.  Yet, with the rise of Venus last week, I have received earthly signs the change has entered the collective.

For example, on may way into the city to visit Aaron’s studio, I received a crucial sign from a fellow Aquarian whose art was a crucial launch pad for my search for the hieros gamos in art;  Peter Gabriel, his latest public expression of the “sacred marriage” in a New York Times article “I’ll Sing Yours, You Sing Mine” unveiling a scheme:  every full moon he plans to release a two-song digital download on iTunes.   Talk about celebrating the cosmic cycles!

Chiefly, emergence is a factor of timing.

So, it is with Aaron Olshan, who I met almost precisely a decade ago at a screening of the film Pollock, Ed Harris’ film about a genius rising to meet the zeitgeist and subsequently falling because he couldn’t hold the energy of fame.  Aaron was my guide — not only to the characters in the film, but the actors who were playing them.  “I know everyone!” he declared and insisted on being my guide to the art world.  For all the false irony being booted around the New York art world at the time, there was a telling authentic irony of at the root of our relationship:  in the decade I have known him, I have never experienced Aaron in an exhibition.  It seemed to me that his work had to be hidden until the voice that could interpret it was properly prepared to do so.

How to find a simple, comprehensible language for the complexity of a new archetype?  This was a decade-long struggle that will be placed before the public in my next exhibition Woman of the Twenty-First Century: Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage. In fact, the exhibition will have as a centerpiece the single image (below) I had been seeking since I met Aaron in 2000!  The icon of the hieros gamos for the Age of Aquarius!

"Garden of Eden" by Aaron Olshan, mixed media on wood, 2009

Genius hides in plain sight.  It can’t be any other way.  It has to be an outsider, but close enough to the inside to understand the change that is necessary to awaken society.  I can’t think of any artist in the New York art world who better fits this description than Aaron Olshan.

"Rebirth" by Aaron Olshan, mixed media on wood, 2009

He handed me a dog-eared clip from the New York Times Arts and Leisure, with a tender portrait of him and his father, the artist Bernard Olshan.  Instead of a business card, he handed me something resembling a scroll images of his paintings that looked like Sumerian pictoral language: each piece with its own distinct character containing the holistic vision of the entirely.

This was an early indication of what was going on inside him, what immense energy was forming in unconscious that he was tapping into.

"Pagan Portrait" by Aaron Olshan, oil on wood, 2007

Even if I didn’t know this in his presence, it would be made clear when I viewed his astrology chart.  Born under a Pisces New Moon rising in his 12th house.  What better signature for an artist: tapping into “Ancient Dreams” and making them new for the millennial transition between the ages.

"God Bird Change" by Aaron Olshan, mixed media on rag paper, 2001

He was a self-identified pagan, about to go through a transformation, and our shared vision from the future informed the urban pagan journey chronicled in Kundalini’s Daughter, whose birth we celebrated on the Winter Solstice.

"Messenger" by Aaron Olshan, oil on canvas, 2006

Eternal Return embedded into his horoscope, which, in turn, is coded into his paintings through a “sacred marriage” of color, form, light and narrative that puts the last nail in the coffin of the 20th century debate between objective/nonobjective painting because a past duality has become a seamless unity.  Aaron’s entire life as an artist – indeed his many past lives, were spent preparing for the past two years birth: an all encompassing narrative of Eternal Return specific to our time — the transition to the Aquarian Age…

"The Golden Age" by Aaron Olshan, mixed media on wood, 2009

I began writing this post about Aaron on my ride back from his studio on March 2.  That night I had a dream so real it served as a direct experience of change.  I was lying in an empty parking lot trying to sleep.  It was a feeling of profound alienation, being so close in proximity, yet shut out of the consumer culture that now defines America.  Then a parade of powerful public personalities crashed through the night scene. Mick Jagger.  Cindy Lauper.  I had a vision of what they were like before their star rose — when they had to work the odd job to survive, just like the rest of us.

Everyone had to do something utterly ordinary while they were waiting for the zeitgeist to tap them as extraordinary, didn’t they?  This paradox reveals what makes for genius: the structure  (Saturn) capable of carrying the zeitgeist (Uranus) which comprises the dual planetary rulership of Aquarius.

Aaron and I made a full circle and shared a meal at the diner near his studio.  It was the same spot where we discussed a decade ago what venue would be appropriate to write about his work.  There was no instantaneous dissemination of ideas through blogs then, nor POD publishing.

This time, I asked him what he will do with his new fortune.  He flashed me his Aaron smile, ear to ear, and said. “I will buy better materials.” And with that Aaron look of rapture, he added.  “There is a tube of cobalt paint…”

Curious, I look up cobalt, not at all surprised to discover it is a “necessary nutrient for all life.”  A fitting material for the genius whose time has come!

"Human Epilogue" by Aaron Olshan, mixed media 2009

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March 6, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] where the word pandomonian comes from.  Indeed, when Pan entered my book in the physical form of Aaron Olshan, I was faced with the opposing forces of chaos/structure rolled into one package, an artist of a […]

    Pingback by PAN « Critical Trilogy | November 11, 2010 | Reply


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