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Date Minted: November 15, 2020

Artist Description: 'Floating is a sensation you can feeleither with your whole body or partsof your body. You dont have to fight it.Just let it happen and enjoy the moment. Turn the negativ into the positive.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Ah, surrealism. Here it is, presented in its most recognizable form: strange shapes and odd assemblages of items set against an archaic background. Here, in Vastipan, sense and understanding are beside the point. Artist Marterium says as much in their artist description: “Just let it happen and enjoy the moment.” Spoken like a true surrealist, and keeping in the style of Ernst, Buñuel, Man Ray; no need to examine, sift through logically, or come to any finite, rational conclusion. Vastipan asks us, tells us, dares us to let it be what it is, whatever that may be. It cautions us to look, to see, to feel, but not to wonder or dissect or examine. Still, Vastipan is an intensely pleasant piece, quite beautiful and quite intricately-constructed. How does Vastipan make you feel? Airy, breezy, calm, tranquil. That’s enough. That’s all it aims to do. 

That’s because surrealism of this sort seems to pride itself on being impenetrable. We may be able to lightly describe the things we’re seeing in any such piece, but actually making sense of these disparate parts together plunges us into a world of dream imagery, with sensory information and impressions, sure, but beyond any kind of real rationality. To that end, take a minute, or two or three, and really think about what we’re looking at within Vastipan. A small lake set in the foreground as rolling, sandy dunes emerge from the landscape like beige turtle-shells. A few scattered palms. A mossy rock. A grey sky with an enormous, perfectly-circular white sun in the background of it all, almost more like an eyeball (or the back of one; keeping with the dream imagery) behind it all. But scattered around this landscape are arcane objects. Pink pieces of cloth, blown haphazardly by an invisible wind, skate around the landscape as if they’re living creatures. Some are huge and cover great tracts of land. Some are smaller, like herons, and dip down by the water’s surface, around which hover floating bubbles, but bubbles that are more like mirrors what with their impressionist (reminiscent of Escher) reflections of the world around them. 

It’s an objectively serene scene, but one that doesn’t make any kind of logical sense, especially now that we’re wrangling with the concept of anthropomorphized blankets/cloths/rags/sheets and hovering bubbles within which sit microcosms of the piece itself. Vastipan doesn’t dip into the primordial soup of horrors and acid-flashbacks that you’d find in, say, Dalí works (melting cloths, mangled animals, crushed and demented body parts, lithe shadowy figures without heads, feet, hands) but opts instead for an equally ineffable arena: that of the purified spirit.

The overarching logic that defined the mid-20th-century surrealists was a certain post-war trauma. These were not just dreams, they were dreams of war, of blood and death and dismemberment and devastation. Vastipan seems to suggest that the realm of the surreal need not be a realm of traumas and psychological horrors. It can also be pleasant, airy, and serene. Infantile even. “Floating is a sensation you can feel either with your whole body or parts of your body. You don’t have to fight it. Just let it happen and enjoy the moment. Turn the negative into the positive,” reads the artist description. The abject nature of previous surrealist dream imagery is here traded for something more classically spiritual, a kind of religious calm that can be likened to pure godliness, the state of complete soul satisfaction. 

There is a similarly nourishing symbolism to this piece, one that both calls to mind religious imagery without necessarily being overt about it. Not any specific, say, Judeo-Christian imagery, but that kind of ur-religion, the Gardens of Eden, the many forms of Paradise, the nirvanas of Eastern Philosophy, the nearness to enlightenment, the Tao, whatever you’d like to call it. A place of such deeply illogical placidity does not exist consciously. In fact, Buddhism would argue that it can only exist when the conscious mind is completely set aside through practice of meditation and non-self. Here, that sense of post-conscious or super-conscious is communicated within the surrealism, using the same jumping-off point as the other surrealists, but using it to explore upwards, to a so-called “higher plane” of experience than the post-war surrealists, who were more interested in exploring downward, into the subterranean parts of the soul: violent and Oedipal and absurd. 

Vastipan almost appears to float along surrealism’s surface, borrowing some of its tricks and tips and effects if not its predominant imagery. It’s refreshing to encounter something so far beyond logic that isn’t deleterious or terrifying. It’s enriching to see this proto-place, one without the rules of reality, presented as paradisiacal. 

And let us not forget that Vastipan is indeed crypto art, and is likely aware of its place in the crypto art continuum. Therefore, so could Vastipan be quietly hinting at the apex possibilities of the movement? That crypto art is not beholden to the laws of art and reality we’ve hitherto only ever known, and that something beyond or above those laws is now predominant, can be predominant, can create worlds as wonderful and enticing and ultimately impossible as this?

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