By the time he was out of primary school, Augustin Lesage was sent to work deep in the coal mines of France, which to be fair, would probably be enough to render anyone mad. In 1911, when he was 35 years-old, Lesage claimed he heard a voice speak to him in the darkness of the mine and tell him, “One day you will be a painter”. The only contact he had ever at with the arts at that point was a visit to a museum once during his military service. The experience prompted him to explore communication with the spiritual world, and within a year of his first unexplained encounter, Augustin was hearing more voices, this time specifically telling him what to paint, what art supplies to buy and conveniently, where to find them.
Now, I’m the kind of person who always need to know the answer behind a magic trick and I’m not especially superstitious, but looking at these absolutely mind-boggling works by a guy who spent most of his life working down a dark hole, you have to wonder. Is it possible these are not just some elaborate doodles by a coal miner who went a little cuckoo? Is there something we’re missing?
For the next two years, Lesage would come home from the coal mines every night and begin to paint his labyrinthine works on three metre squared canvases. It was his belief that the voices speaking to him were the spirits of his little sister who had died at the age of three, artists from ancient Greece and even Leonardo da Vinci himself. Guiding his hand, they told him, “Do not try to understand what you’re doing,” claims Lesage, who wrote that before he would start to paint, he would never have any idea as to what he wanted to portray. “I never have an overview of the entire work at any point of the execution. My guides tell me … I surrender to their impulse.”
In 1921, Lesage met Jean Meyer, director of a spiritualist publication, who became his patron. Augustin was finally out of the coal mines and dedicated the rest of his life to painting, largely living as a recluse until his death.
Today, most of his works are exhibited at the Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art in France.
So what do you think? Maps to a hidden otherworldly treasure? Encrypted messages from another realm? The truth is out there. Okay, I’ll stop.
via Dangerous Minds