AV: Has your style changed significantly over the years?
MB: Well, like anyone who does something over a long period of time, I’d like to believe that my skills have improved! But yes, I have been inspired by and have employed a number of different styles. That said, based on content and intent, there is continuity in my work over the years, even through different styles and mediums. The spiritual nature. Some things I am presently working on are inspired from notes and related memories of rituals dating back to the early 1960s. Some of my Gholemhe work has taken five, ten, fifteen-plus years of work on certain paintings.
AV: What do you consider when defining occult art?
MB: Give me your napkin. This is something that is seen as waste. But it literally holds your essence, your DNA. It remembers this conversation, and the context and the mood . . . and by working with it, I’m now in there too, and my intentions as well. [Michael begins crumpling the napkin up.] I am now creating a texture for my paintings. I will then be able to always use this painting as a tool for a psychic link between us. [He sprays and brushes various liquids and dyes onto the paper.] I am now preparing it to become part of a landscape. I need to get the texture, colour and minerals just right. This is a landscape I have been to, on another world, where I need to take you to get you to fully appreciate a certain concept.
AV: A hidden concept?
MB: Exactly. I then add what could be called ‘passports’ needed to get through to this desired destination. This is also done with colour and specific symbols. With the methods that I use in my art, all of this is possible. You can take it as far out as both quantum theory and imagination will allow, or you can look at it at face value and see I’ve turned waste into beauty. In any sense, we have magic. As far as occult art, I don’t have a definition for everyone. It is very individual. Everyone should have their own occult experience. There are certain parts of what they are doing in art, if they are really deep into it, which allow artists creations unique to them. One of my favourite philosophers, Benedetto Croce, said ‘Art is expression’. To that, I would add that magick is the imagination of art as expression
AV: I guess that’s not too heretical for artists, but it may ruffle occultists’ feathers. Many are content reading and quoting others, and seemingly swearing off creative imagination. Crowley spoke of magick as ‘the Art and Science of causing change’. Where is this idea without the pictures of the mind, and how powerful is an unimaginative person in such work?
MB: Magick is completely the working of imagination. Those same ‘occultists’ would argue that it is not imagination because they had ‘real’ experience with something working magick. Well, who said it was just your imagination involved, you know? There is such a thing as Cosmic Imagination, just as there is Cosmic Meditation!
AV: As I see it, the greatest occultists have been the most imaginative. Rather than limit them to fantasy and introspection, their imaginations drove them to action.
MB: Imagination is unlimited!