Carle Hessay
Canadian artist
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Carle Hessay 1974 The Ancient Mariner of the Space Age

Carle Hessay 1974 The Ancient Mariner of the Space Age

Carle Hessay: Ancient Mariner of the Space Age

The Ancient Mariner of the Space Age The concept informing this series of Future World images Carle Hessay painted for a Canada Council Explorations project (1974-76) is the following (in Hessay's words, as written on a card): "If man should survive, develop and learn the secrets of the cosmos, he will, in time, have an Utopia. Many gifted men and women will pool their resources for the building of the New World. The story of these paintings begins in the year 3000 A.D." In this large image, explorers reach out into space to create a new world of advancement.

Here, an Ancient Mariner figure is shown as an architect designing a New World using geometrical formulations. A seaman much of his early life, in his Mariner image Carle evokes the Ancient Mariner of Coleridge's famous poem and also the Flying Dutchman who, in Richard Wagner's opera, sought redemption through love.

The cosmic possibilities offered by technological innovations are also explored in Carle's small abstract:

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These Hessay images project a new creation in terms of a cosmic future, but look back to the medieval images such as that in the famous 13th century moralized bible showing the deity also effecting creation according to mathematical principles:

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That in turn is echoed in William Blake's 1794 image of Ancient of Days:

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Carle's restrained monochromatic painting of the Ancient Mariner of the Space Age merges his own personal, spiritual, and intellectual journey with elements from the wisdom of the past and launches it all into a transcendent yet rational and promising future. It is a provocative, yet restrained conflation of Creator, artist, man.

(Dimensions: 122.8 x 92 cm; approx. 48 x 36 inches, canvas stretched over board)