Imaginal Object, Imaginal Being


I spent most of the winter this year painting a series of still-lifes built on the idea of objects as vessels, having the ability to contain thought, as well as, act as a vehicle for the imagination to embed itself in time in a substantial way. The objects are not just well rendered in the form of a painting, but themselves, act as a conduit between thoughts and emotions and the artistic manifestation of the image. They are, put simply, vehicles for imaginal being.

This concept reflects my idea of the material imagination. The imagination needs matter (material substance) in order to manifest itself fully. It is never, strictly speaking a concept or rational production. The imaginal realm seeks “embodiment”. Matter is just made of “stuff”, elements, and needs, and I want to say more strongly, calls for Form. The imagination can not have an existence without a transformation of matter.

The Sufi masters wrote about this independent realm of images. The reverie of the artist or poet enters upon an isthmus that reaches into this world, where images reside. But it is not the artist who draws them out of the pool. But it is the images that are seeking material form that present themselves to the artist. The artist intuitively knows when these significant images appear before him- he feels compelled in some way to deal with them- to bring them into consciousness and mold the vessel that will give them life- an independent life beyond the personal life and workings of the artist.


But through the creative act- the artist is not just the craftsman providing form, but consequently, through this process, is transformed himself. He transforms matter and matter transforms him. All that he desires(to create and be creative) in living the life of the imagination is reversed, and the work gives to him Being, Imaginal Being– the two, image and artist, manifesting an imaginal existence. This is the Elan- the word expressing a moment of total understanding and of great joy in that comprehension.


This imaginal existence, where one’s being unites in a material way with the imaginal object, culminats in a profound and transformed state of being. It is the very apex of the creative life. In this vision, one feels the unity and oneness of all of creation and one’s own wholeness integrated into the very fibres of existence.

But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself…If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is – infinite.”
William Blake

Author: Judith Reeve

For nearly 30 years I've developed my painting practice in the studio, building on what I leaned from my student days at the Lyme Academy of Fine Art. Along with my daily journey creating images which I write about here on this blog, I am also currently writing a book on the color practice of Robert Henri.

One thought on “Imaginal Object, Imaginal Being”

  1. The objects have such a strong visual and tactile presence to me and they have – except for the one with the skull-a touching sort of diol
    ogue with each other. The one with the skull is sort of a shock, challenging, frightening and fascinating. All of them invite contemplation.

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