The Artist-Shaman and Primitivism

By Louis Lagana.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

One may ask what is the relationship between shamanic art and contemporary artists working on prehistoric models? Few recognise that the relationship actually is very important. I feel that many contemporary artists use traditional shamanic techniques to achieve the spiritual and metaphysical content in their work. It is said that certain works by individual artists could heal or benefit an audience of viewers or an entire community. Unfortunately few artists regarded prehistoric and other forms of ‘primitive’ art with a potent shamanic content. Many are more interested in the formal aspect. Some of these artists engage themselves in private and painful ‘vision quests’ in their secular search for the sacred. This is why I see that there is an aspect of Shamanism precisely being practised today by some contemporary artists, so that they can restore and show society the lost spiritual visions of life. One has also to keep in mind that a number of the artists are not conscious of themselves as being ‘shamans’ and those who relate to this shamanic quest may at times use shamanic imagery without being aware of its content.

Keywords: Artist-shaman, Prehistoric Art, Contemporary Art, Primitivism, Myth, Spiritual Quest

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.185-192. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 814.858KB).

Dr. Louis Lagana

Lecturer, Art Department (Junior College), Tourism Studies Department (University of Malta), University of Malta, Msida, Malta

Dr. Louis Laganà is an art historian, art critic and consultant, practicing artist, curator and educator. He studied art in Malta at St. Joseph, Secondary Technical School, Paola (1966-71), Malta Government School of Art (1969-72), Accademia di Belle Arti, ‘Pietro Vannucci’, Perugia, Italy (1972, 1988), and at the Istituto ‘Lorenzo de’ Medici’, Firenze, Italy (1984). In 2005 Dr. Laganà successfully obtained Ph.D. in Art History and Theory from Loughborough University, England. He lectures Art History and Theory, Fine Art and Art, Culture and Tourism at the University of Malta. He specializes in Modern and Contemporary Art and delivered papers in many conferences in different countries and contributed articles in learned journals and newspapers. He is a member of the American Society for Aesthetics, the Association of Art Historians, London, and the Vittoriosa Historical and Cultural Society, Malta. Dr. Lagana also curated many art exhibitions in Malta and abroad and his recent publications include, a text book for Post-Secondary students, Systems of Knowledge: A Multidisciplinary Approach, 2006 (revised edition 2010), and the essay Homage to Fertility is featured in English and in French in the International Encyclopaedia, 100.000 years of Beauty by Babylone Publishers, Gallimard, 2009. His current work in progress includes a book on Maltese Contemporary Artists.


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