Contemporary Tribal Surrealism

Contemporary Tribal Surrealsim

Bernard Rangel is a unique, creative and original artist that has created an art style all of his own. The task itself was a labor of love lasting 30 years. Finally after tweaking and adjusting many prior labels he found the magic words, in the right sequence that just rolls of the tongue and on being sounded captures the attention of the listener for the second that prompts the question? What is Contemporary Tribal Surrealism? That in itself is a great accomplishment as to get a persons attention in the days that we live today with; committments, promises, fears, forgotten details and lost ideals it really is something. 

You may disagree or not but to achieve something of this nature is a “Eureka” moment. Bernard, was talking to the gallery owners as they were setting up the group exhibition. They commented on how original the work was in real life with the subject matter and the colour mix. Bernard started explaining about the tribal fusion of elements and other such details and the name simply popped out in the middle of the description. The listners stopped and inquired what it all meant. They had heard all the words before, as they were of the art world, but not in that specific order. It played in their imaginations enough to further inquire as to what it all meant. Bernard was secretly jumping for joy inside as all the excitement was in the fact that the eccentric New Yorkers had stumbled across a new verbal jewel. It was like a breath of fresh air for them, in an already mundane world of looking for money to cover their financial committments. As far as they were concerned they had seen it all. After all they were from Manhattan, and there was simply not much else for them to say that they knew about that too! 

Bernard’s mind was spinning, as he realised that this was his first show in New York City and that he just had to find a ‘gimmick’ to accompany the moment. He set off from Chelsea and wandered into downtown Manhattan and found himself standing on Broadway and 34th, right in the heart of the NYC mix. He walked by a store called “Lids” and thought about it for a second and then entered and inquired if they could put on his Contemporary Tribal Surrealism on a baseball cap. 

In New York fashion Bernard was presented to the store manager and all the commercial details were explained and ironed out. The young crew got down to work immediately and demonstrated what could be done. Bernard thought of the hat colours and combining colour stitch for each hat combination and then of the font type and best spacing and voila it was a done deal.

A few hours later Bernard returned and then walked out the store proudly sporting his own ‘lid’. From that moment on Contemporary Tribal Surrealism was officially born and the world got to participate in its creation.




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Intuition, is an energy that is constantly flowing in a multi-subject source. It is there for all to feed from and miraculously each person is fed the just information required or sought after according to ones capacity to absorb it. Why does it exist? For what reason or purpose? To what measure can you better tune your capacity to be a better receptor? What are the primordial elements present at the mixing pot that are adding to the mix, stirring it continually, and letting flow so that it can reach the right receptors to set into motion things that suddenly appear in material form from a concept, an abstract idea, and through the proper manipulation appear in its material format? We are lucky to have this, blessed if you can actually access which all have at no price! What a unique gift?

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Indeed the zeitgeist of 2011 is obvious. This venting of frustration, anger and disappointment at those in positions of iiresponsibility, leadership or government is clear. What appeared as the “Spring of Discontent” in the Arab World has slowly spread across the world into other diverse areas. The malaise is a general disappointment by the general
public in the way the world is “spinning”.

People are finally awakening to the fact that they are aimlessly running about the
treadmill of life and their lot is getting no better. Only those in positions of “leadership” seem to be gloating and trying to spend their earned millions (at the public’s cost). Buying the super millionaires launch is the task of the day. The minimum running cost of 100K a month to keep it tied up and available for use when called upon is the bottom line. To many this value represents a decent living wage to feed and educate a loved one. It is not a
question of “unfair” it is a question of “accountability and responsibility”.

People in positions of leadership or responsibility have neglected their duty of
complying with their task and position. They are busy lining their pockets and they
are not the slightest bit worried about who they have to answer to. It is a scenario
of “Catch Me if You Can”. All are to blame for this situation. The “Polis” has fallen asleep and the “Wolves” are ransacking the “coop”. How typically lazy humans are we all? The Polis has fallen asleep in the car journey and inevitably the driver has dozed off at the
“wheel”. People, there can only be one outcome! “CRASH”.

People are sitting at the “gates of hell” in Wall St. today clamouring is disbelief and the “gamblers” are still at the blackjack table going bust. The House is playing with a “stacked” deck as they think that the common man is “dumb”. The broker is earning just to “middle-man” the money and feels no guilt. The bankers are licking their lips as they hold
the world economies to ransom and the world governments are blushing as they have finally landed the best chick in the bar (corporate business) for the night: only to realise that it is all prosthetics and airbrushing. There is no happy ending as the “object of desire” is a trans-deviant! How embarrassing that must be!

People, you are your own destiny! Take hold of it and become responsible and stand up and make a true effort to take the helm of the ship and steer it through troubled times. For the love of mankind DO NOT REMAIN ASLEEP! The driver has dozed off already and the car is crashing! There is no gain is pushing the blame or pointing the finger!

Bernard Rangel

London, 14/10/2011

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Father of Contemporary Tribal Surrealism

After thirty five years of developing and tweaking his painting style Bernard Rangel finally gave in to the constant clamour for a classification of his art work. Faced with such a task he set about looking for a name to best define it. Finding the right name was a challenge and it proved even more difficult than he had first imagined. Over a period of twenty years the name underwent five changes and finally the one that won, and is best suited in sound and with overall international public approval is Contemporary Tribal Surrealism.

Bernard’s life has been one of truth seeking and looking for understanding of the world we live in. At the age of fifteen he had a very clear idea of the adult world that lay outside the protective walls of the religious boarding institution he was in. He was also clear minded about not battling against arrogant religious institutions of any kind. His world travels had shown him that there were all kinds of religions that were the mainstay of socioeconomic systems in the world and although they were different in custom, language and lifestyles they were primordially all the same. Their commonality from the outset of tribal collective adhesion, moral codes, mythologies, social development and natural progression was strikingly similar. He saw that there were no remarkable differences that could differ one from the other. They were all unique yet all the same. Bernard set out in search of a truth that gave reason to life and that was the binding energy that lay behind the intellectual madness visibly present. He sought out the unique energy that gave rise to the wonder of life in Creation. He knew that it was not a “man” adulterated doctrine or philosophy. Before finding this he could not further venture with his mission. He had to find the spiritual essence and explanation behind the reason for life. After 22 years of travelling, seeking answers and following his intuition he found his starting point. The secret was safely preserved in a Brazilian hinterland.

Throughout his diverse activities in travelling, working and friendship making in different countries he always had painting as his mainstay, his north star, his nirvana. This is where he diffused the chaotic and incessant stimuli of a world gone mad in intellectual blindness. This is where he stood upright in the years of his psychotropic wilderness. This was where he found his emotional succour that was absent in his family and personal life. It is through art that he expresses his life and translates it into colour and energy for others to look to as a solid rock in a raging and endless storm. It was by following his artistic intuition that he found his spiritual path hidden in the dark thickets and snares of karmic life; fused into the erroneous social templates he was brought up in. His dichotomy of art and life is the essence of his being.

Bernard’s art is simple in its objective and complex in its understanding. At first sight the tribal or aboriginal design is evident. The reason for this is simple, it is to deconstruct and establish the starting point for rebuilding a new view point: Tribal design throughout the historic world is the same regardless of where it is still present, and it is the one common starting point of ‘primate man’ regardless of their birth places and before their individual social evolutionary developments were undertaken. People then notice his fusion and dynamic of colour. The artist’s love for the energy of colour comes from his psychotropic days. His balance of colour fusion comes from his profound technical understanding of it and the chrome therapy aspects that lie there. His layering of paint is purposeful in historical content. This activity that he clearly undertakes is to include people’s on-going onion-skin baggage gained by incarnating on earth and each layer represents all the experiences, activities, actions (beneficial or detrimental put forth into the universe for inevitable retribution), and where personal ties are made or undone. Two more very important points to his work are balance and composition. These are not just purely technical aspects of visual aesthetics but they are also indicative of the Ying and Yang energy of life where balance between the energies is always the most desired course of action. This philosophy translated into paint and onto a two dimensional surface on which to hold a visually stimulating image that is dynamic and constantly alive radiating energy and an on-going visual stimulation to provoke one’s imagination, relative to the mind’s eye, is also placed intentionally by the artist. Art is his choice of tools in his cultural contribution to the contemporary world we live in. His awareness of people’s differences in spiritual consciousness, historical differences through specific cultural evolutions, and language barriers in literature allows his art to cross over material boundaries and touch people all over the planet. So in this apparently simple purpose the complexity of Bernard’s art comes into its own. Simple becomes complex but objective and its narrative for those that simply enjoy visual stimulation. The reasons why people buy his art he acknowledges is pure and simple, people relate to it on their own personal subjective level.

This could be called a translation of Bernard’s work as he is aware that time as a singular element that does not exist. Time exists in function of our measurement of it in our intellectual activity, but without humans time is a continuum. The individual spirit matures with spiritual experience and progressive spiritual growth. So spiritual activity must constantly be in movement during our material existence, in the material sphere, and through his art it is the spirit that he wishes to touch and refresh. The material aspects are but a consequence of the spiritual activity that is alive. This reflection of time in the spiritual world is illogical as the spirit is eternal and infinite but the material is finite and perishable.

Shamanic could be another classification of his work, as he is a medium between the material and spiritual world but his shamanism cannot be seen from a parochial or text book view point. It must be seen in the context of the 21st century and in the eight countries he has lived in and the several languages he has learnt and spoken. His choice of tribal or primordial design with the objective of deconstructing and establishing a new formal dialogue and progression in a visual format is surreal in objective and his naming of his work as Contemporary Tribal Surrealism has content and purpose. His incorporation of various art styles and their fusion is his personal artistic and creative touch. He acknowledges and thanks the many artists that have given him inspiration on the many different levels in his artistic life. Their influences are evident in his work and this is how he gives testament to their influence: William Hogarth, J.M.W. Turner, Claude Monet, Salvador Dali, Michelangelo, Hieronymus Bosch, Max Ernst, Joao Miró, Pablo Picasso, El Greco, Goya, Jackson Pollock and Benevento Cellini.

Bernard Rangel is a self taught artist and has developed and created his expression in a dynamic and colourful way. He has created a visual format that calls for a heightened visual intelligence, hence the parallel development of the other intelligences man has besides cognitive needs to be developed too. He cites them as motor, musical, theatrical, visual and procedural intelligences and they need to be developed inclusively to that of cognitive now for the future generations to come. Fully aware of his purpose and activity here on earth the name of the genre he has chosen best defines his spiritual, visceral, coherent and dynamic colourful expression that is conducive in the elucidation of such a profound personality. As a spiritualist Bernard acknowledges in the material sphere all of mankind’s activity is interconnected perfectly. Not all of us are on the same page but then again it is this very mix that makes our presence here interesting and fun. He too looks for his niche to co-exist.

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Art & Spirituality

To deal with this topic effectively it is best to treat them separately. Only then can they be placed side by side to show how they have driven human activity from the outset of our development. First of all, today Art is the human expression of ideas, creative or otherwise, through speech, film, writing, painting, sculpture, music, theatre, dance, ceramics, and other mediums. Secondly Spirituality: must not be confused with religiosity. The energy of spirituality springs forth from the spirit. It is from here that the energy or the driving force behind each individual’s existence lies. It is non-denominational, and free of all doctrines or dogmas, consequently not related to religion, Spiritualism or ideologies of any nature or kind. This must be fully understood, as beyond our material sphere there are neither banners nor political sides, or any human bias, there is just an unyielding driving force of energy that is the backdrop of Creation. Needless to say, each human has a spirit.

Whatever vague ideas or misconceptions we individually have; as to the nature of our being or our raison d’être, lends to confusion in fully appreciating the beauty of the pure energy that relentlessly drives Creation. This is important for us to grasp now as it is humbling to accept that humanity is just a spectacle of dust in the greatness of all that surrounds us. We have not created this existence and we do not fully understand to what purpose we are here, driven in activity. We acknowledge that we scratch out an existence for ourselves to provide protection, security and food for our sustenance. We have learnt that we must do it in order to survive.

So how does Art play a role in the grand scheme of things? In truth, man from the outset of its development, from the primeval into what we are today, initially engaged in the simple activity of making pottery, clothing, tools, utensils, and recorded events through cave paintings. Eventually we developed a linguistic communication. This repeated activity occupied us for many millennia. By comparison the professional activities we know today have been with us for a very short time. So today, in all ethnic societies art is present and it is like any other profession, i.e. law, medicine, engineering or teaching, with its peculiarities off course. In different countries due to the precepts and ideologies of the pertaining society it is expressed differently. Here however neither the details of which, nor the nature of ideas expressed are of any real consequence, as they are not relevant to this essay. 

So where do we humans get our uniqueness from to express ideas, emotions and communicate amongst one another? What makes us unique in the animal body we have? It is the spirit which to us is unseen, untouchable, invisible and a mystery but we know we have it, as that is what enables us to go about our daily activities. These at times can be considered robotic, due to the routine or rituality, but all in all they are still very unique as they are completely different every time, in specific details. Other people in comparison seem to have a grandiose existence nevertheless the bottom line is daily functional activities are all the same: they are all relative. We all eat, drink, sleep, think and dream. We also all do these same operations very differently due to social customs or personal idiosyncrasy. But my point is that man’s uniqueness lies within the spirit. The reason for the spirit is multiple and diverse but its main function is that it is the source of a unique energy. It is incorporeal and not of earthly matter.  

Due to the spirit being immaterial, it needs a housing or shell in order for it to remain and carry out its purpose here on earth. Without this shell it cannot be effective and achieve its objective in matter. The animal groups that were created and developed, millions of years ago, in different parts of the globe specifically to house this immaterial essence, the human spirit, no longer exist and today we are their direct descendants. Now you may well ask questions like, why must the human spirit exist, why does it need to evolve, or why must it journey through the material sphere at all? It is not necessary to deal with these topics here and now. They are of no consequence to this essay but as an insight the following in necessary to understand.

The state of the spirit in the initial human spiritual incarnation, in the prepared bodies, was literally a blank slate. The spirit was “unconscious” and the purpose of its journey in the material realm is to become “self-conscious and fully aware of the Laws of Creation and its Creator”. Through the exercise of “Free Will”, experience and action it undergoes in the material realm it is to acquire the desired state of self-consciousness with the end aim of returning to the spiritual realm and remaining there to further develop in Creation.

The task of becoming a self-conscious spirit is not an overnight activity hence one incarnated lifetime is inadequate to achieve this state of consciousness. So, metaphorically speaking it is like going to school. One academic year is an unrealistic period of time to learn all one must at the age of six to finish school and get a job. Each academic year is relative to the age of that given year and through the accumulation of years and integration of subjects the end product leads to graduation and gaining access to the next level.       With incarnation it is much the same.

We may not know or be aware of as to how the spiritual baggage that each one of us has accumulated over our several, individual and different periods of existence, prior to the present, derived. We do know however that as we age it has a direct influence on the way we behave. Through hindsight and empirical evidence it becomes clear that something indeed motivated our inherent likes and dislikes. The realisation that the traits and characteristics that we are kin to already fully exist, cultivated and nurtured complete in a nutshell become clear. We have progressively built up the nature and the quality of our individual baggage. We are responsible for the intensity of the vices and graces that are part of the makeup of our personalities. Acceptance or denial of this reality comes to the fore, and it is from here change or enhancement of characteristics already developed, if necessary, can take place. Reciprocal activity is a major factor here too, as it is also part of one’s personal baggage. In the unfolding of this natural Law of Reciprocity: The return of all the acts, speech, action or thoughts set into motion in all the incarnations, returns to the point of origin. This return is reinforced by all that the initial activity collected, directly or by association, as it journeyed throughout Creation. As the reciprocal action is unleashed, it affects the life of the said person. The resultant impact and intensity of the payback unfolds in accordance with the spiritual awareness and level of the individual.  

Thus a person’s spirituality changes and develops, as it journey’s in the material realm, and through experiences and activity in its various incarnations the baggage can either be beneficial or detrimental to the overall progress of the individual as it goes from being an unconscious human spirit into a developed self-conscious one.

The further we embrace these unearthed revelations we notice, if beneficial, they serve as safe guidelines, as we develop in maturating our spiritual selves. The further we consolidate them they helps us shed the false rules or pretentions of a human-contrived social code, as we better see our purpose. But in order to navigate this new uncharted passage correctly we must look wisely for solid signposts. If the individual’s baggage is negative and heavily burdened, it causes intensified confusion and brings about endless mayhem and desperation, by rendering a hazed and blurred landscape in which gathering thought and direction seem to be a hapless activity.  The battle is hotter, but progress is still possible.      

The fact we engage in activities to forge out an existence whilst alive on earth, in accordance to the nature, composition and constitution of the societies we are born into is logically determined by each individual in function of one’s wants, needs and desires. We act out our individual roles according to the content and degree of intensity of our personal baggage, including our personal reciprocal cargo. The quality of personal energy; be it beneficial or detrimental, to the evolution of the individual’s spirit is neither in question here, but each person’s nuance is valid and of importance.

In the art profession there are the protagonists and fellow conspirators or co-actors. The protagonist or human tool is obviously the writer, painter, sculptor, composer, choreographer or designer etc. He or she is the one with the passion, talent, gift or desire to carry out the artistic expression. The fellow conspirators or secondary players are the publishers, agents, managers, benefactors, gallery owners, buyers, fans and so on, and their importance is of great significance in the proliferation of the artistic expression or idea realized. Through the combined activities of all the participants involved in this area money is generated and as it circulates, within the determined economies, wealth is created.

So how do these individuals come together? Both the primary and secondary elements of the relative artistic expression have the corresponding residue of artistic expression in their souls, (outer protective shell of the spirit) but obviously in different degrees of intensity. This residue has been nurtured in the individual’s soul through an interaction, with the said expression, in his or her several existences over time, from the outset of the individual’s initial incarnation on earth as a human-spirit until today. Different associations to the activity in question are varied, due the degree of the individual’s interaction with the influences and activities, arising from the exercise of one’s free will, over several incarnations on earth. Consequently, as an example there are doctors that have a profound liking to the arts or an artist that has a strong association with engineering. In short, personal characteristics are particular and varied to each individual, but one’s individual baggage is a consequence of the degree of interaction with the expression in question, over several incarnations.   

As a result both protagonist and secondary players have a like residue in their souls. How this is manifest, in secondary players, is shown in different ways; financial, emotional, inspirational, active participation or simply interest shown in an idea nourished by an artistic expression. In the protagonist the intensity is greater, and if allowed to flourish, it becomes part and parcel of his or her lifestyle. When a protagonist manages to make the output public then this touches others that have a semblance of the same residual essence in them. Now you can perceive that both art and spirituality are clearly independent from one another yet one’s activity in art is entirely dependent on the spiritual baggage of the individual.

Today, it is an acknowledged fact that never before in mankind’s history has the socio-demographic picture been so favourable to all across the globe. The equal and advanced position of the many different ethnic groups in health, education, art, transport, economic infrastructure, and communications is so good that we are almost interacting with one another on an equal basis. This we know through the free flow of information via the Internet. Our similarity in the objective as human spirits is one but our differences as ethnic groups are many. These differences should be admired, appreciated and not curtailed. The global village is indeed a better place and the continued existence, exercise and proliferation of art in all the different ethnic groups has played an integral and important part in getting to this stage. If we are to improve in our collective spiritual evolution through what we have already independently achieved, art must be allowed to further flourish, as the energy created by the individuals engaged in the exercise of their activity enhances the progress of the societies in which they are active. Most importantly it provides the individual an opportunity to transcend the limitation of the material sphere and journey onward into the Spiritual.

Acknowledgment to Abdrushin: In the Light of Truth-The Grail Message.

Bernard Rangel.

London, February, 2011

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