A painting of a naked man laying on steps

Material Prima, a pivotal painting for me, heralded a coming into my own as an artist. In alchemy, Materia Prima (or Prima Materia) is considered the first matter. This formless primeval substance is regarded as the original material of the universe and is essential for the alchemical Magnum Opus and the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone.

In his book What Painting Is James Elkins likens the act of painting to the practice of alchemy. In his chapter Materia Prima, he relates the initiation of a new work of art to the philosopher’s stone and how the practice of alchemy really starts within the self. It’s this primal matter used in the creation of the philosopher’s stone that begins the process of turning a base substance into gold. Spiritually this process of transformation represents the attainment or awakening of the higher self.

Materia Prima is a record of this transformation within myself ~and it continues to be an ongoing process. It is also the touchstone painting for all of my work since, as I continue to explore alchemical themes of metamorphosis, initiation, transfiguration, and mystical states of being as an artist.

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Catherine Lucas