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For forty years the artist, scholar and spiritual teacher Adi Da Samraj (1939-2008) was involved in the production of a highly diverse and unique body of artistic work, ranging from Zen-like ink brush paintings to photography, videography and, most recently, monumentally scaled abstract geometric images generated by digital technology.
His purpose in all of this work was to create images which enabled the viewer to experience at least a taste of what he called 'Reality Itself', or the intrinsically blissful state of non-dual awareness that he asserts always already exists prior to the presumption of being a separate 'subjective' self perceiving a separate 'objective' external reality.
Adi Da's collateral exhibition at the 52nd Biennale di Venezia in 2007, curated by renowned art critic, Achille Bonito Oliva, marked the first time his visual art was shown to an international art public. During the spring of 2008 selections from that exhibition were once again made available to interested viewers at the exhibit, 'Transcendental Realism: The Art of Adi Da Samraj', displayed in the Cenacolo di Ognissanti as part of the Winter in Florence arts festival. The spatial juxtaposition in the same room of Adi Da's monumental geometric art and Domenico Ghirlandaio's large perspectival fresco of The Last Supper, provides an occasion for considering the nature, meaning and experience of Adi Da's work within the framework of the history of Western consciousness, culture and art.
Aesthetic Ecstasy is a collection of five remarkable essays by Adi Da Samraj on the subject of art, many of which were written by him in response to comments on and consideration about the collateral exhibition of his image-art at the Venice Biennale.
The essays in this book (several of which also appear in the second edition of Transcendental Realism) include instruction in how to fully and profoundly participate in Adi Da's image-art, an esoteric exposition on the form of his art, and an address to the culture in which art appears. Adi Da's image-art is made to convey and assist the egoless comprehension of 'Reality Itself'. If you participate most profoundly in the images he makes, you can tacitly feel and enjoy the process of that comprehension.
"The aesthetic experience is, primarily and fundamentally, about ecstasy or the experiential transcending of the psycho-physical limits of egoity (or of 'self'-separateness). When the viewing of image-art is right and true, there is a thrill in the event, a profundity of experience. If the viewing of image-art is not right and true, then that thrill, that profundity, is absent, and the secondary uses of the image art come to the fore."
Adi Da Samraj