“Magick must, by definition, be creative. Creativity has to result from Magick, and inform Magick; otherwise, there is no Magick” – Robert Taylor: Magick & Imagination, Starfire Vol. II No. I
On the afternoon of Saturday 19th March I had the pleasure of attending the Robert (Taylor) Agasucci/Stafford Stone memorial exhibition at the Horse Hospital curated by Billy Chainsaw & Johnny Jones, which featured art from Rob’s previously unseen archive. Arriving at the Horse Hospital, walking down the darkened corridor and pulling back those curtains, I felt like I was getting a peak behind closed doors.
Rob was a man of extraordinary vision, imagination and great dexterity, combining his eye for line, form and exquisite sense of shape and shadow with the outpouring of occult influence – a truly inspired creative magician – and the collection highlighted that succinctly. There was an intimacy in standing before each of these works, examining the strokes on the paper/canvas closely, and I felt as if the smoke and veils had been parted, slightly and ever so briefly. I have had a great admiration for Rob’s artwork for a long time and standing up close to these original works one can sense a discernable potency emanating from them. Afira Khan, Rob’s former wife, magickal partner, long-term friend and Muse (a fashion designer with an ongoing interest in the Typhonian Current), commented that “all of Rob’s artwork on display was a magickal talisman of sorts, and that most were signed with his sigil and probably magickally charged.” They exude a visceral quality that is hard to put into words.
The images that we have highlighted in this post were only a few of those that were on display, but these were the images that stirred me the deepest – ‘The Ace of Stones’ which featured in Starfire Volume 2 No. 2 alongside Rob’s article ‘The Black Stone (The Nightside Tarot’), which I have only seen in black & white was mesmerizing to see up close, the blue tint upon the stone and the lightning struck black pyramid against the vivid colours of the background. The radiating eye which was a cover for a German edition of The Magical revival by Kenneth Grant. A Spare-esque portrait (not featured here), which when viewed from an angle brought into view hastily drawn marks, swirls, sigils that caught the light in certain directions, seemingly scrawled across the surface with unrelenting passion. The textures he achieved in “Moonchild” were outstanding, the child in the womb, the armless ‘angels’ reminiscent of the figure from ‘Man Is A Bundle of Ids’ by Austin Osman Spare (1955) – just stunning.
The piece that affected me the most was Eve (below). My eye was caught by brilliance of the gold upon the halo and how it throws the phantasmagoric atavisms of the background into sharp contrast. I found myself standing before this one the longest, studying the curve of her breasts and the fine strokes of her hair; the serpent circled around her shoulders seemed to writhe as I took the whole image in – evoking a feeling of deep familiarity.
In conversation with Afira, she stated that “Rob’s art work and vision was his Magick, he believed in the concept of Art being Magick and this is what he dedicated his life to. Art was the higher path, and he was encouraged by Kenneth Grant on this journey when he was in the Typhonian Order. He was a visionary who worked extensively within the praxis of dream, and as he explored the Nightside this came through into his dream life and ended up on the computer screen with his later digital works, where he found his ideal medium.”
Sarah: “What does Rob’s art mean to you personally? Which pieces resonate the most and why?”
Afira: He was a powerful magician and artist acting as a channel for this current, so all his art works are precious to me. I believe he was a living conduit for these energies. He taught me how to direct my magick into my art and how they are inseparable entities, each informing and enhancing the other.
The exhibition featured works that were done from the 70s-90s when he worked on an easel, and represent his earliest depictions of magickal art. From these I’d say the Black Stone is especially powerful to me because of my Islamic heritage, Jinn and Laylah. Rob and I met later when he was working with the Nightside in digital, and these images are most significant to me. In recent years we both began to work with the Strong Woman and Femme Fatale image – something I embodied and inspired for him. We had similar visions and began inspiring each other’s creativity and art and often worked together.
Sarah: “I’m fascinated with the process of esoteric art – the way in which the content is drawn through into the medium. What was integral to Rob’s work as an esoteric artist?
Afira: These earlier pieces shown at the exhibit were magickally charged and sigilized, likely in a manner similar to that practiced by AOS, whom Rob drew a great deal of inspiration. Once his sole Magick became his art he was just infused with visions from the Nightside. His dream life was very vivid and this is where the spirits and landscapes came in. He would just get straight on the computer drawing these or even making sketches and doodles. He didn’t need to do anything else, they just came and never stopped. There was an intense connection he had developed with these forces and the current that he drew on. He was a natural visionary, and I think that is why he really appreciated other visionary and outsider art.
Dream work was his Magick. I know that it was something he worked with from earlier occult groups he belonged to. He believed strongly that the zone between wakefulness and dream is where spirits and humans connected, and where he derived inspiration for his Art. It was a place of power and subtlety, a place where he grew as both an artist and magician.
Rob was a very generous artist who would give his work to his friends as gifts. He was very much of the belief that all art was to share and should be accessible to all. In later years he operated in mainly the digital realm, where he could be true to this belief. His motivation working in this medium was “pure democracy” In this sentiment he was again inspired by Spare: “By working digitally, there is no “original”: every copy is just as good as the first, equally accessible to all, and at no cost to those who appreciate it. It’s not about money, or fame, just the art. In a sense, it’s the next logical step from Austin Spare’s decision to exhibit only in pubs.” – Rob
Sarah: “Given the nature and subject matter of Rob’s art (particularly his Nightside visions) and accepting that ART = Magick. Have you had any unusual experiences or occurrences happening around the paintings?”
Afira: Nothing too weird yet! Though I do find I can tap into that energy and landscape meditating on his art. I think Rob’s drawings are portals for us to enter into, especially the Nightside art. You could detect a ripple effect in the work he did as an artist magician, it radiated and unfolded in many different ways in his life, but the work and art was always his true mission. There was an obsessive quality to him as an artist, and I often wondered who really controlled the pen. At all times he was doing his Will, and that was something I really admired. Even though he had an early demise, I know that he lived life on his terms and followed his heart always when it came to his art, he was certainly on the higher path.
We were both tapping into some powerful energy, and yes you could say they did play out in and around us. But that is the risk we were prepared to take for The Work. Like Rob said “you must have no fear, and continue your work” He knew the risks involved, embraced them and continued his work, his Will, and taught me much the same.
Sarah: Rob’s website states that his grandmother taught him how to draw at the age of 4, but I was wondering how he went about developing this…
Afira: He drew comics growing up as a child, developing his passion at art school, where he learnt fine art and graphics. He was naturally talented, a master painter drawer. He was very motivated and inspired by the Situationist’s and this influenced his art, philosophy and path into the occult. As a young man he was going to Sex Pistols and Bowie concerts, and being a punk himself he was very enthused by this scene and its influences. After Art College, his art and love of music took him to London, smack bang in the middle of the art and music scene, hanging out with the likes of Marc Almond, Nick Cave, Sisters of Mercy and Siouxsie and the Banshees.
Sarah: “What inspired Rob to begin to explore Typhonian themes?”
Afira: Rob began to explore these themes even before he joined the Typhonian Order. It’s a current he’d always been devoted to even in other groups he belonged to (Cult of the Hidden God, Typhonian Order, Ku-Sebittu and most recently Horus-Maat Lodge and The Esoteric Order of Dagon) The current was his magickal beginnings. It came to him naturally; it embraced him a much as he embraced it.
Sarah: “And what other artists or authors inspired him?”
Afira: Kenneth Grant was hugely important for his Magick and creative work. Rob also collected visionary art by Austin Osman Spare, Von Stropp, Mark Ryden, Steffi Grant and H.R Giger. He saw different worlds in their works much like the ones he explored in his dreams. He did not limit his inspiration to purely visual sources, either; Rob was an avid reader having a love of books, fiction as well as non-fiction, and his library had over 3000 books, some very rare. In recent years he really admired Rasputin and began reading everything he could find on him. Egypt was also a huge inspiration for him, and writings by Massey and most recently academic Egyptology for the book he was writing on myth and climate change, (which he dearly wanted to finish).
As an artist his inspirations were wide and varied. Among his favourite authors were Robert E Howard, HP Lovecraft, and he loved the Arabian Nights. He loved Surrealism, Dada, and Symbolists. His favourite artists were mostly American, for example Jeffrey (Catherine) Jones had a huge influence on him as a child and he would often buy books just for the cover artwork; Franzetta, Berni Wrightson, Kaluta, Claire Wendling, Leonora Carrington and Andy Warhol (Rob had written to Warhol whilst at college telling him how much he loved his art and how he had inspired him to go to art college, and he was delighted when Warhol wrote back, sending him a signed photo).
He had a fascination with Monsters too; if he wasn’t creating them he was watching them in horror films. He took obsessional delight in creating and recreating these chimeras.
Sarah: “Are there any plans for future exhibitions?”
Afira: There will be some exhibitions of his digital work in the future. Stafford Stone will always have an online presence both on FB and his website. He wanted his work accessible to all, and I’ll do all I can to maintain that presence.
As for future work by him… He did visit me after his death to tell me he was working on something much bigger, he was building something! And I like the idea that he is still at it, continuing the Work someplace else… I hope his art will continue to challenge and fascinate, and encourage others to follow their own Path and Will. Certainly that is the legacy Rob would be most proud of.
His artistic (and written) creations are unforgettable, and his influence will indeed live on – “Rob’s drawings are portals for us to enter into” and by carrying this idea through into our own art / writing we can create our own portals and links with those entities we traffic with in our own journeys and Work.
I would like to end this with Rob’s closing statement from the article I opened with:
“…there are no limits to what Magick, in conjunction with Imagination, can achieve. If Magick is to progress beyond superstition, then it is the task of creative magicians to dispense with superfluous details, and concentrate instead on devising more efficient ways of, in Van Gogh’s words, ‘refashioning of reality’. “- Robert Taylor: Magick & Imagination, Starfire Vol. II No. I
Text: Sarah-Jayne Farrer & Afira Khan
Original Paintings: Robert (Taylor) Agasucci
Exhibition Photography: Sarah-Jayne Farrer
Digital Photographic post-processing: Matt Baldwin-Ives
The Horse Hospital: http://www.thehorsehospital.com/
“Unless Occultism becomes creative in the sense of opening up new approaches, modifying and developing traditional concepts and generally revealing a little more… there will be a stagnation in the swamp of beliefs rendered inert by the swift acceleration of humanities consciousness, which is little more than a miracle” – Kenneth Grant