Jon Graham is a writer and graphic artist living in Vermont. He is also a professional translator from French into English specializing in books on Surrealism, esoteric traditions, and folklore. Books he has translated include The Immaculate Conception by André Breton and Paul Eluard, Little Anatomy of the Physical Unconscious by Hans Bellmer, The Reality Overload by Annie Le Brun, The Initiatory Path in Fairy Tales by Bernard Roger, and Demons and Spirits of the Land by Claude Lecouteux. He is currently working as the acquisitions editor for Inner Traditions, a post he has held since 1996.
Presentation: A Stunning Revenge on All Things: Surrealism, Alchemy, and Magic
In the Second Manifesto of Surrealism, André Breton wrote: “I ask that special notice be given the fact that surrealist research presents a remarkable similarity of aim with alchemic research: the philosopher’s stone is nothing more than that which will permit the human imagination to take a stunning revenge on all things.” The relationship between surrealism and esoteric tradition was an enduring one and had a visible influence on many surrealists, such as Leonora Carrington, Max Ernst, Remedios Varo, Pierre Mabille, and many others. Jon’s presentation will follow an overview of this relationship with a look at two artists: Victor Brauner and Jorge Camacho—the latter of whom was an operative alchemist. His work features significant references to the great work, and he also created alchemical texts such as New Alchemical Heraldry with Eugène Canseliet. Due to the enigmatic circumstances surrounding the loss of his eye, an event that the artist credited for awakening his magical powers, Victor Brauner also drew on Solomonic magic and Gnostic symbolism in the work following this accident. The work of both these artists reveal their profound involvement with the hermetic arts and bear out Breton’s belief that there was no distinction between magic and poetry: both provided a force and substance capable of transforming reality.