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Gaia
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More about Gaia

jtucker's picture

Contributor

Unless you have taken copious amounts of hallucinogens, this Alex Grey painting might be a little hard to dissect.

But worry not! For I am ready to take a whack at understanding the trippy​ truth of Alex Grey’s mind.

Let's start with the title. There are two common understandings of the name Gaia, both of which are very much related to each other. In Greek mythology, Gaia is the goddess of the earth. She’s the ultimate mama, as all the other gods and goddess descended through her. In current day culture, we have developed the Gaia Theory. This theory suggests that both living and inorganic beings have evolved together as a single living system that greatly impacts the conditions on earth. It suggests that our biosphere is a self-regulating organism.

The whole mama thing starts to make sense when we learn that the idea for this painting came to Grey the day after he watched his wife give birth to their daughter. Grey was driving across the Brooklyn bridge and he had a vision. Before him appeared the painting that you see now...how he did not crash the car and plunge to his certain death remains a mystery, but apparently this is how it went down. This vision was of Gaia, or as he puts it, “the World Soul”. He saw the cycle of birth and death and how Gaia gave birth to life through her love energy. He also saw the heart wrenching images of pollution, excess, and destruction you see on the right; he felt for a moment that he had made a horrible mistake bringing a new life into this world. Heavy.

He claims that the crevasse in the base of the tree that the woman is sitting in is Gaia’s yoni (hippie speak for vagina). Oh and apparently the naked man next to her is Al Gore telling the world we need to stop the carnage. A naked Al Gore? Now that might be the real inconvenient truth. On the other side of the mother, we have what happens when we morph a bug with a penis and let it sprout some devil horns, which is wrapping its arm around George Bush, because apparently they are chums. Many have speculated the evil bug penis is in fact Dick Cheney, which actually makes a lot of sense.

We can also see the World Trade Centers with two airplanes flying near them. It is interesting to note that this painting was created long before 9/11, but after that fateful day, countless people approached Grey asking him how he experienced such clairvoyance, to which he replied “if you take enough acid, you too can know the truth”. Okay, well maybe he didn't say that, but I would like to think it went down like that.

This painting is clearly a commentary about humanity’s insatiable greed and its effects on the earth. I personally also interpret it as a sign that I have not taken enough drugs, for while Alex Grey is having visions that produce awesome paintings like this, pretty much the only prophetic thing that runs through my head is thoughts about what I am going to eat for lunch.