I discovered William Blake’s work when I was a child. At the time, Kahlil Gibran’s book The Prophet was very popular and my family had a copy of it. The words were poetic and philosophical; but it was Gibran’s black and white drawings that held my interest. The mystical opaque paintings that accompanied the inspirational, allegorical prose poetry held my imagination. I could stare at those pictures forever. At 10, I wrote and illustrated my own work of Inspirational Fiction, entitled Bird of Stars. It had a one print run, and it no longer survives.
Gibran was described as a “modern day William Blake.” I found that was only superficially true. Gibran is a talented visionary, but Blake is a genius. His symbolic paintings are portals to other worlds, and reflect a very personal version of Christian mythology. His work is febrile and opiated, full of colors that have no precise name. The luminous beings in his paintings seem more summoned than painted. Blake created a private mythology that overlapped and incorporated Christian myth. It’s said that he had visions, a kind of Gnostic awakening. Even his demonic images are imbued with this grace.