Artist Randal Roberts states his opinion of Homer Simpson unequivocally: “He’s a loving father and a good man.” Coated in paisleys, Shiva eyes, chakra petals, butterfly designs, and overripe hearts, Roberts’s nirvanic icon has sloughed off his cartoon identity and taken on a cosmic one. It is likely that, underneath the beaming symbolic emanations, this artist has inscribed sacred geometry—he is a fan of the golden ratio and always has a ruler handy.
After spending his twenties working at IBM in Poughkeepsie, Roberts became an artist four years ago at age 30. While developing his talent for drawing, he drifted in a devotional direction. Buddhist philosopher Alan Watts is another eminent subject to whom Roberts has lent a mystical form by way of acrylic paint: “He speaks from the grave about you. Every sound he made was in tune with me, with what was going on in my life.” He also has done portraits of his friends; confident of the healing properties and promise for self-discovery that, as Carl Jung observed, the mandala context offers. “To get the viewer to really consider their own divinity is what’s important to me,” Roberts says.
At Rhinebeck’s Omega Institute, Roberts was encouraged by the tutelage of celebrated psychedelic artist Alex Grey—his only art teacher, he says—who helped him to clarify the mission that he is now on. “The message isn’t ‘Go trip.’ It is ‘You are holy—even your fingerprints are holy.’” In line with his mentor, who has publicly discussed the transformational benefits of hallucinogens, Roberts credits the shamanic entheogen DMT as providing him his pivotal breakthrough, an event he muses on almost daily: “This force engaged me—and I couldn’t believe this was happening—and it said, ‘Look, I’m who you are looking for. Does it matter how you found me? Here are answers to some of your questions. You are part of a grid of energy. Your body now is a small reflection of an ocean of pure light.’”
When asked if he might be able to describe the correlation between beauty and consciousness, Roberts answered: “Though I’m not quite there yet, it is full recognition in the moment that you are what you’re looking at. And if you recognize beauty, just be able to maintain Thich Nhat Hanh’s half smile. And find joy in that you are that beautiful.”