A recent conversation on a facebook meme that featured this Alan Watts quote, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance,” brought about a conversation on the game Bioshock, where one injects cancer cells into them to gain super powers.
Of course gaining super powers with cancer is not a reality but in this particular case it would seem to be leaning on the possibility. Shawn Thornton, an artist who suffered from Pineal Gland Cancer, yes, one doesn’t really hear of this often, transformed his battle with cancer to something unimaginable.
Thornton suffered for over a decade with headaches, tiredness, blackouts and perception warps, until he was correctly diagnosed. After years of dealing with ticking sounds in his head and spams, his tumor was removed, but it transformed his life.
Thornton stated on a Reddit thread, “I’ve had a lot of truly mystical and otherworldly experiences as a result of my history and battle with brain cancer and I’m really drawn to things that resonate with a certain powerful energy, and I’m always honing in on that more and more. whether consciously or subconsciously.”
Much like the human brain, Thornton’s paintings show such complexities that is not easily understood, but when you see how he channeled the pain of that experience into something bigger, it is bound to leave you speechless.
There is a lot of symbolism that goes into the art and Thornton is heavily influenced by Eastern art, Flemish painting, modern and contemporary art and sculptures etc., and not to forget the effect of having an undiagnosed brain tumor in his pineal gland.
Its interesting to note that all these paintings are done by hand with small, cheap, sable brushes, without the use of rulers or measuring devices.
Some of the paintings took two years to complete, apart from the time the paintings required large amounts of oil paint that Thornton would mix and store in mounds on his palette for that entire duration.
If some of the paint would dry and form a skin on top, he knocked it off and continued to use it to ensure the colours stayed uniform throughout the piece.
When asked which is his favorite painting and why, Thornton added, “I’d say I’m very partial to Black Pyramid Meditation, 2002, 2004-08. I think it just resonates with me and after all these years I still get entranced and excited when I look at it – and I look at it everyday, just about. My paintings, when you see them in person, they’re much more like objects than paintings.”
“You know, the experience of viewing one is much more like looking at an artifact then looking at an illumination. I think they really work on the viewer once you’ve gotten into the work – the problem there though, is i don’t think the average person spends enough time with a work art to really began to get a sense of the power and concentration that comes out in a good work of art. This happens pretty much through osmosis, I think, if you’re open to it and the piece is powerful enough,” he added.
To add a cherry on top of the cake, Thornton’s paintings are free flowing, he never has a plan when he starts painting, nor does he sketch anything out before hand. Everything falls into place as he paints his masterpieces.
What do you think of Thornton’s art? Let us know in a comment below 🙂