|Austin Osman Spare, Ascension of the Ego from Ecstasy to Ecstasy from The Book of Pleasure, 1913.|
Excerpt from the foreword for Austin Osman Spare: The Occult Life of London's Legendary Artist written by Phil Baker, published in 2010 by Strange Attractor. The book has been reprinted by Random House in 2014.
In his relation to both art and occultism, Austin Osman Spare stands out as a strikingly individual and even unique figure in fields that are by their very nature brimming with strikingly individual figures.
While his line and sense of composition have at times drawn justiﬁable comparisons with Aubrey Beardsley or with Albrecht Dürer, if we seek a match with Spare the visionary or with Spare the man, surely the only candidate is his fellow impoverished South London angel-headed nut-job, William Blake. In both men’s lives we find the same wilful insistence on creating purely personal cosmologies or systems of belief, fluorescent mappings of the blazing inner territory that each of them clearly had access to. We find the same strangely iconic phantoms and grotesques; the same heroic readiness to embrace lives of poverty; the same tales of erotic drawings either burned or spirited away upon the artist’s death; the same sense of unearthly realms of consciousness both actually experienced and lucidly depicted. [Alan Moore]