Who is the Mystical Realist and what does he do?
Lars Stefan Nyman is a mystic with the inconvenient habit of creating paintings that fill closet after closet. Free him from some? They are not all that bad. Some are quite good!
Although quite disconnected from humanity’s mass hypnosis of conceptual belief, he also plays around with words, creating literary works. These include novels, short stories, articles, and poetry, many yet to be published, as he is currently emerging out of a long period of voluntary seclusion.
Call it a sort of private monastic experience, about a decade long, with the intention of once again giving birth to himself, free from the artificial varnish of human influence and culture.
The first years of painting
Stefan's passion for what he initially believed to be “art”, began around the time his childhood ended. In hindsight he knows this to be the reason: Before adulthood floods consciousness with belief in dead concepts and matter, every child instinctually knows the real world to be the immaterial world of the soul. Therefore, at that specific time, a method for making inner realities visible in outer existence became necessary.
Manipulating material paint, guided by an ethereal inner force, became his method of maintaining a small stream to this original, living reality. For years, just the thought of this possibility stirred up in him a profound state of ecstasy. Unfortunately, this was not reflected in his actual paintings. Yet.
The period of fiction and twirled moustaches
Eventually, however, he too would succumb to the cultural mass hypnosis of what it means to be “human”. For a while, he was blind enough to identify, at least subconsciously, with the definition of “artist” and all its association, good and bad.
Of course, the dead concept of “art” could do nothing more than to strangle the last remaining drops of true creative essence, still dripping in from absolute reality to this persistent illusion of sense perception and mind concepts, creating the mirage of relative existence, in just the same way identification with name, age, title, gender and/or ethnicity can do nothing more than to block a true sense of self.
Of course, actually studying at an art school in his late teens didn’t help either.
In his twenties, as part of this journey we all walk into the conceptual maze of the mind, fiction writing absorbed most of his creative energy. Unfortunately, he had some success with a certain novel, which made it possible to fully commit himself to writing for a couple of years. (Fortunately, he once again was unable to transform his living passion into a dead, habitual occupation.)
Finally able to fully explore his introvert tendencies, he eagerly looked forward to plunging himself into the depths of his mind, exploring all the little crannies and nooks he believed would reveal nuggets of artistic gold.
And gold he would find, eventually, but not at all in the way he expected.
The years of confusion – pain is the soul calling one back home.
Unaware of already being far too brainwashed by the matrix of so called “humanity”, plunging into the true depths of his mind, actually meant plunging himself into a deep depression. It was inevitable. Though still with faint memories of absolute reality, his personal consciousness was already too intermingled with concepts and words. And none of us are able to see reality as it truly is from that state.
Therefore, now staring deep into the formless and ethereal parts of himself, expecting content, nothing seemed to be there. Still searching for something conceptual to grab hold of, suddenly what faced him looked like a deep, meaningless void – an eternal nothing, an autistic God staring back at him with the face of Death.
After almost three decades of feeling like a constant creative explosion, for the first time in his life, he felt truly empty.
At the same time the actual creativity couldn’t be stopped. The words kept coming, forcing him to write weirder and weirder fiction. He knew what he was creating would be pure suicide, career wise, but the strange words and stories kept coming, leading his consciousness into ever darker states.
Born with a mind eager to explore all the possibilities of consciousness, even its very depths of hell, he willingly followed. So, he let this weird content fill page after page, knowing it would never be published. At least it seemed to be “something”. Still caught in the conventional idea of modern mythology, that of the “self” being a separate bubble of consciousness, the emptiness he saw when looking at the core center of his being, was experienced as being a horrible thing.
The world turns itself inside out
Finally something snapped. One day, when the confusion of his mind-bubble came to a sort of dark climax, the bubble popped. His personal mind could no longer stand all the terror and creativity, trying to make its way through a false sense of limitation and separation. So, with a final sting of pain, his ego gave up. The wall between the idea of “me” and the idea of “world” suddenly came crumbling down.
And then and – oh, the wonder! – the whole world again revealed itself for what it is.
One single living conscious being,
one big happening in the eternal now.
No separation, just one timeless flow.
An exploration of infinite unity,
synonymous to love.
No longer was he a separate body and mind looking at a world out there. He was the entirety of existence, and also of non-existence, looking in at the world through the eyes of his body. His true identity was formless consciousness, aware emptiness beyond space and time, while the manifest world, just as in a dream, was the exact same thing as his mind.
Slightly returning to his personal mind and body, long forgotten memories from childhood, and beyond, floated up to awareness, much like drowned corpses, finally filled with enough gas, emerging to the surface of the sea. Memories of unmanifest realities, still present. Memories of being a kid staring into the forest, completely losing himself in the trees, actually staring out back at his body from the shady moss, engulfed by an endless cycle of perfect bliss, bittersweetly tainted by having to limit itself to material form.
He remembered that undefinable living presence – call it God, if you will – that once was so obvious, before belief in concepts had squeezed life out of existence – that still always is obvious, if only the mind would shut up long enough, and true enough, for that original reality to shine through in all its pristine innocence.
The state lasted no more than a couple of minutes. But it changed everything. Once again, he had seen the world and himself for what it all actually is, beyond the filter of conceptual thinking and human language – an empty aware nothingness, playing as everything in form. His understanding of the world violently turned itself inside out.
He was no longer matter having a conscious experience. He never had been. He was consciousness having a material experience.
How the hell was it even possible to forget such an obvious thing? It had been staring him straight in the face, all this time. And yet he had forgotten.
Just as we all have.
The return to painting
Unfortunately, the personal ego is a slow creature of dull habit. It would adjust to the new understanding incredibly slow, and maybe it never completely will (or even has to). Still, the experience did have direct consequences in his immediate life. His faith in words, as a viable means of expression in and of themselves, completely died. This made writing an absolute impossibility for years to come.
Once again, he knew: The true source of his creativity had always been the living reality that houses the prelingual soul – that is the soul, prior to consciousness getting lost within the mind’s conceptual maze, which creates the relative world we almost always interact within – including with ourselves.
And what is literature, if not an echo chamber of conceptually constructed contexts, without inherent meaning outside the fiction of language?
Meanwhile, an image is direct perception. To be understood, it ideally has no need to be filtered through the mind. Without forcing us into conceptual labyrinths, an image presents us with a raw, wordless, and mystical presence – just as in dreams, where visual apparitions are purely felt, without any attempts of logical interpretation (which always are distortions).
Thus, painting became relevant again. Though he had painted now and then during all these years, he now returned to images made with pigments on canvas with a vengeance!
It all started with a gigantic rejection of all things personal and “artistic”, visually returning to classical realism and beyond – even all the way back to medieval iconography. Studying all the traditional techniques, old master methods and materials, was a way of forcing the act of painting itself to the forefront, making difficult for any vain need for personal expression to slip through.
The monastic years
What followed were actually years of rejection of personal expression on all levels, not just regarding painting. Spending more time in meditation and contemplation than being active, he attempted to empty out all habitual thought patterns and automatic behaviours, that were nothing but results of the false world model he had spent decades within.
Spending months at a time in almost complete solitude, he deepened his commitment to wordless, undefined, and naked reality (mystical reality). During these periods the world eventually became a sort of conscious “nothing” again (what he now calls “absolute reality”), filled with that undefinable living presence, manifesting the endless eternity of “nothing” as “everything” (that he now calls “relative existence”) through space and time.
Every single cross section of relative existence, that the conceptually hypnotized mind previously would have defined as a separate “that”, was seen as just an aspect in spacetime of the one, eternal absolute reality, always present as “now”.
Unfortunately, returning to “normal” human experience, interacting with other people, he found his ego even more stubborn than anticipated. Old behaviour patterns arose automatically along with outer circumstances, even though he internally saw right through the vanity of them, even right as they happened.
The masks we all need to put on, in order to interact with each other, are hard to change, especially since anything that would try to change the habitual patterns by force and will, would just be the personal ego trying to mimic the absolute state. Thus, creating more illusion and new masks.
At least, he no longer wore any mask in order to interact with himself. And this, believe it or not, is a rare and wonderful thing.
The return to form
Still, after years of meditation and contemplation, deepening his inner oneness with the one infinitude of being itself, entering the human experience was – time and time again – like a regression into the illusion of separation. His consciousness watched the spectacle unfold, as his personal ego tried, and failed, to maintain the purity and peaceful emptiness of his ascetic periods, while once again dragged out into the human drama and filth.
Until he finally understood: Being authentic in this relative existence, is not living out the “emptiness” of absolute reality by being “empty” and always at peace. Forcing the relative expression (as a something in everything) to mimic the absolute totality (the eternal nothing), by supressing personal expression and living like a monk, is just as silly as the conventional illusion of believing you are a separate person (which really is incredibly silly).
Instead, being authentic at this subject-object-manifest level of existence, is being true to the core of your soul’s expression of a particular limitation of the absolute. Living that one out, is being the absolute expressed in form.
This re-established him as an actor in the scene of relative existence, now acting not out of habitual ego, but out of love for individual truth beyond constructed and defined personhood. No longer having silence, solitude, and traditional meditation as a necessary part of his spiritual practice, able to maintain awareness even in deep sleep, his method is this:
Face your shadows, follow your bliss.
Living in this manner – if one is habituated enough in absolute reality to know which desires come from the false ego-self, and which come from straight from the soul – life itself is meditation.
Reconnecting to source creativity
And so is painting. And so is creating anything that previously would have been called “art”. It is all just an expression of the formless in form. Thus, after exploring different techniques and media from a more technical viewpoint, his ambition with painting is now basically the same as it was at the end of childhood.
More and more he aims to make his art a visual amalgamation of his “spiritual” progress (of course “spirituality” itself is just as man-made as religion, or any other concept). Every “artwork” is to be viewed as the result of an alchemical process, transmuting another part of personal led, into the gold of perfect union between the manifest and the unmanifest.
Of course, he is not there yet, but he is finally getting closer. Plus, the more free his consciousness gets from man-made illusions, the more that small soul stream into material existence is becoming a river.
This time he won’t stop until the immaterial world has flooded the material, until they both – once again – are one and the same.
What is Mystical Realism, really?
Free from commercial interest, he has never attempted to limit his painting to any recognisable, personal style. Instead, every painting is a natural result of the dialogue between inner reality and outer fiction, manifesting itself in paint.
This “anti-style” he calls Mystical Realism.
Mystical Realism is not just another -ism within art. Half jokingly, and 100% seriously, it is also a way of being in the world, plus a multitude of homegrown methods/systems of how to get there. This means that the term should not be confused with the literary ism called Magical Realism (sometimes called Mystical Realism).
Instead, Mystical Realism is true realism – actually being in the world as it truly is, not as our mind believes it is based upon concepts and thoughts.
It is radical realism. In fact, it is so radical, that expressed in constructed language and limited logic, filtered through the dualistic mind, it might seem like nothing but mumbo jumbo. (And there is a lot of true mumbo jumbo out there, so beware!) Meanwhile, the more clean-cut, “rational” and “down-to-earth” a description is, the more it limits itself to the artifice of man-made language and echo chambers of constructed logic.
Also, the word ”mystical” may seem misplaced among words like “true” and “realism”. Still, radically true realism will inevitably be mystical realism.
Why? Because Mystical Realism is a radical refusal of belief in the artificial definitions and categories, which the conceptually hypnotized mind wants to filter our worldview through. After all, “the mystical”, can be defined as the experience of that – whatever it is – which lies beyond the mind.
Thus, free from human concepts, the state of mystical realism actually is real realism. When this “approach” results in paintings, the paintings themselves can be called mystical realism. This is the case regardless of their visual appearance or apparent “style”. Freedom from human concepts is also freedom from human styles.
Thus, a mystical realist painting can look like a da Vinci, like a de Kooning, like a traditional portrait, or like something entirely different. Classical realism? Sure. Cubism? No problem. Surrealism, expressionism, and impressionism? Of course! And sure enough, sometimes mystical realism may even look like magical realism. Nothing odd about that.
In the end, it all is mystical realism.
Yes, it all is.