Psychedelic art is no longer relegated to blacklight posters in a stoner’s basements. With the slowly (sometimes begrudging) acceptance of psychedelia in popular culture, the works of artists who are inspired by their psychedelic experiences grow. Visionaries like Alex Gray and Android Jones have certainly helped pave the way, and especially in Colorado, their work is well-known (just ask a frequent Red Rocks visitor). But the expansive number of international, national and local artists who create trippy art goes well beyond Gray or Jones, and Mirus Gallery in Denver will showcase an impressive number of them during August for the group show Psychonauts.
“These artists create work that spatially depicts psychedelic experience, art that often even transcends even the definition of psychedelic. A Psychonaut is defined as a person who spends time exploring the universe right inside their own mind. A Psychonaut is on a quest [of] self-discovery, embarking on inner voyages whether through the aid of entheogenic substances, meditation, sensory deprivation, or binaural beats,” the official press release explains.
One of the magical things about psychedelic art is that you don’t have to be on psychotropic substances (or have tried them in the past) to appreciate the visual complexity and profundity. There’s technicality in each piece, from the common use of layering to the obsession with geometry to the explosive color palette. It’s easy to get lost in one, and for this show, it’s encouraged.
Psychonauts was curated by the owner of Mirus, Paul Hemming. From starting their first gallery in San Francisco to opening the satellite location in Denver alongside Temple night club, Hemming understands the growing acceptance of psychedelia and embraces it in all his ventures. “It is being proven by medical studies at major institutions that [psychedelics] have the potential to alleviate existential angst, depression and addiction as well as create a life-changing spiritual experience that provides deeper meaning in one’s life,” the team at Mirus explained.
Of the visionary art pioneers, there won’t be any of Gray’s art on display, but Mirus landed work from Jones. Some of the artists are Colorado-based and should be familiar to fans of the psychonaut scene in Denver, like Abram Aleo (a member of Threyda), Damon Soule (who painted a mural during ColorCon in June), Morgan Mandala, Stephen Kruse, Jake Amason and Ben Ridgway. Regular followers of Mirus or visitors to the International Church of Cannabis will recognize the technicolor art of Okuda San Miguel.
With over 70 pieces, Psychonauts is a far-reaching and inclusive show that will include a variety of media. Although many of these artists primarily work on canvas, there are also sculptors and muralists — like Gleo, a Colombian artist who has painted walls all over the world. Her style incorporates the layering often seen in other psychedelic work, but she doesn’t overdo it. With influences that span the entire breadth of human history (literally, she’s inspired by the beginning of time), Gleo is a psychonaut who doesn’t rely on fractals to express the transcendental. Another world-renowned muralist with work in Psychonauts is Austrian-born Nychos, known for his breathtaking x-ray, cross-section and translucent murals.
There are more than 30 other artists to catch at the show, which runs August 9 through 30. And our advice? Take enough time to sink into the pieces you really like because you’ll probably find small details down the rabbit hole if you do.
Mirus Gallery is located at 1144 Broadway. There will be an opening reception for Psychonauts on August 9 from 7 to 10 p.m. For more information, go here.