The Cyprian Call to Arms: Cyprianism and the Creative Process

NOTE: This article was adapted from the “Cyprian Call to Arms”. In addition to being a system to integrate into one’s whole life, Cyprianism can be used to enhance and inspire the creation of art.

The Philosophy of Cyprianism can be employed to enhance one’s creative process. There are, in fact, those that only use it for that reason. As an artistic discipline, Cyprianism has the potential to help you create a masterpiece by infusing your work with mastery, eroticism and a unique connection to the audience.

Cyprianism is a great foundation for artistic expression, especially for those that are not afraid to acknowledge the Erotic Force. Music, sculpture, painting, flower arranging, dance, drama … if it is devoid of sexuality, it is not Cyprian. As acerbic American satirist H.L. Mencken famously said, “the great artists of the world are never puritans and seldom even ordinarily respectable. No moral man – that is moral in the YMCA sense – has ever painted a picture worth looking at, or written a symphony worth hearing, or a book worth reading.” He would agree with Cyprian illustrator Franz von Bayros that we should “always seek out Beauty, and attempt to find it in situations that cannot be mentioned in prudish circles.”

Whether Cyprian art is literally erotic or not, the Philosophy says that it has a sexual narrative that underpins the energy of the piece. Cyprianism wishes to give (a sometimes unconscious) shape and voice to the intangible (and often subtle) Erotic Force.

This is why so much Cyprianist art is (and virtually all of the Cyprian Rituals are) Erotic. But it is also why virtually none of the erotic art being produced today is Cyprianist. The Erotic Force demands more of us, just as the Current does. By interfacing with the Current through the Erotic Force we are opening up creative channels not available to most people. The pulsating, seething ichor that runs through the veins of Cyprianist artists is made of the Poetry unleashed by our connection to the Current.

Cyprian vs. Cyprianist

Today, artists that apply the principles of Cyprianism in order to create better art are called Cyprianists (a named coined by Australian painter Catherine Abel). The term Cyprian, however, refers to those who apply the Philosophy and Practice to all areas of their lives.

Since Cyprianism can be applied directly to the creation of art, it is not absolutely necessary for it to inhabit your whole life. The latter is obviously, however, a better, more holistic approach and should be considered. The “Beautiful Life” approach to Cyprianism requires pursuing the creation of a masterwork, of your life or your art, or both. So then it is possible to be Cyprianist without being a Cyprian, but not a Cyprian without being Cyprianist.

Tenets of Cyprianist Art:

Cyprian Art is bound to the energy and influence of the Current.

The Current is the underlying connective energy of the Universe. It is the Poetic Architecture of creation and the single most important concept in Cyprianism. It is also, however, one of the most difficult to explain.

We do not, at this time, have the means to codify or quantify It. Thus, for centuries, many have been satisfied with referring to It as the “spiritual”. But It is not otherworldly. It is an energy that tangles and intermingles with our own, asserting Itself subtly, allowing those who seek Its mysteries to resonate in ineffable ways. An inter-dimension.

It is the birthplace of Cyprian creativity and the force that powers it. It is The Present and The Presence. It is cadence. It is vast enough to be peaceful, yet personal enough to adapt in a breath. It is always moving, yet rarely is It linear. It is S~xual – chaotic, transcendent, ruining. It exists in horrible, primal Nature yet It is also the Beautifully clever architecture that dares to defy it.

We seek to understand It by creating. And through analogies and symbols that speak beyond language. We often understand It in relation to what It is not, depicting the results of a life lived near but not in It.

It flows like a current of water or air. It connects and charges like a current of electricity. And It is the current moment – the Now.

Yet it must also be understood that there is no need to quantify It in order to understand It. The mystery of the Current is Its essence. A veil drawing us near and then into.

It is said that “a flower is beautiful, and a flower garden is Beautiful.” The Current is that Poetry which enables this subtle, powerful difference.

Cyprian Art accepts the confrontational nature of Beautiful S~xuality.

The Erotic Force is an interface with, as well as very good analogy for, the Current. Cyprian art is teeming with the arc of Beautiful S~xuality, begging the breadth and depth of an arousal that is, by its nature, confrontational. It requires a connected mind and heightened senses. It explores raw animality – clever and haughty. Yet it is also redolent with deeply moving narrative.

However, when it is written in shorthand or lost altogether, art becomes unmoving. It cannot be immature, easy and flavorless. One dimensional swats at sexuality – even if executed with technical mastery – are at odds with the Cyprian expression of the Erotic Force.

Cyprian Art is vulnerable.

The First Key of Cyprianism is Alethia, “to be unclosed”. Vulnerability requires sincerity, truth and trust, and unlocks the potential of the path of Cyprianism. The subtle Current resonates with vulnerability, making Its power consuming. It is from here alone that works of this method can be created.

Cyprian Art prioritizes mutuality and harmony above balance.

The universe oscillates in a vibrant mutuality. Beauty and ugliness, right and wrong, up and down, gay and straight, and every other seeming opposite is pure folly of the imagination. Binary thinking is divisive and denies the vast expanse of possibilities available to those sensitive enough to understand.

Cyprianism embraces the darkness, knowing that it is not the opposite of light, but an aspect of it. The pursuit of such Beauty demands the acceptance of wildness and unpredictability.

Harmony requires relationship, reflection and unity. But not uniformity. The Current provides an atmosphere with the cohesive ability to bring together that which would otherwise be incongruous into an agreement resonating with a Poetry greater than the sum of its parts.

Cyprian Art prioritizes the Beauty of skill and mastery.

The Second Key of Cyprianism is Areté, “excellence, mastery”. Though Cyprian artists tend to possess the natural ability of the skills of their discipline, a masterpiece is only created through the insight provided by mastery. Technical proficiency is to be strived for, it being essential to exercise and ritualize in order to create muscle memory. Without diligently working toward mastery, there is no hope of creating a masterpiece, no matter the genius of an idea. After only a short time without exercising daily, symbolist painter J.P. McPhillips said, “I’m full of new ideas, but my hands have grown clumsy.” Instauration is essential, but not a substitute, for creation.

Cyprian Art places “designing to experience” above “designing from experience”.
There is a certain quest for fantasy present in Cyprianism. Artists of this method often use, as their subjects, narratives for which they wish rather than those that they might have already experienced. We seek to experience that Life which we believe possible. This is why it is said, “Be even as you become”

Through ritual and creation we tie ourselves to our ideals, dreaming them into being. A particular Beauty of Cyprianism is that these fantasies often manifest into one’s actual experience, creating folds upon the Current and exemplifying the nonlinear nature of time.

Cyprian Art believes in the constant relevance of our history.

Time is nonlinear. It exists in many directions and can move in any, or all, of them simultaneously.Thus, there are more ways to describe art than new and old. Ingres admonished us to “maintain the cult of the true” and “perpetuate the tradition of the beautiful”. Honoring the legacy of the artists in our history keeps them just under our fingertips; essential to creating masterpieces that not only look forward, but also out, from right now.

Human nature is the desire to matter. We search constantly for the immortality that being significant will bring. Cyprianism animates the long dead masters that came before, keeping them immortal and ever teaching. And it creates immortals by developing artists of consequence and substance.

Cyprian Art rejects the “easy”, the “needlessly crude”.

There is an arc to life and an arc to creativity. Thus, there is an arc to art. Without it, everything is immature scribbles. The overwhelming tendency of a shortcut is to remove true artistry from a work. This is why Cyprianism leans heavily on ritual. It is in ritual where the muscle memory is built that will inform and strengthen creation. The dynamic worship of Beauty in the Cyprian method declines that which is easy.

That is not to say that works of Cyprianist art are only created by doing things the “hard way”. John Ruskin said, “A great thing can only be done by a great person; and they do it without effort.“ Cyprianism understands the difference between “easy” and “without effort”, something symbolist painter J.P. McPhillips says, “has to do with the artist become conduit, which is truly achieved through showing up and submitting to the rigors of the craft.” This is something which is especially true when considering art that is charged with S~xuality.

Cyprian Art rejects the opposition to change.

As we mature, we receive new information. As we receive new information, we must often reshape our thoughts and beliefs. Those who violently oppose change maintain an unhealthy level of immaturity.

There are, of course, truths that do not change. Yet, we must take care not to believe that our understanding of these truths will not. We are no longer useful when we believe we own all truth outright.

Unfortunately, life is not so simple as rigidity would allow. Reality exists in a mutuality where, often, “both things are true”. We can differ in opinion and understanding and somehow both be right. The keys to discerning the subtle difference are vulnerability, undistorted honesty and what Cyprians call “The Watchful Eye”.

Cyprian Art rejects change for its own sake.

Modern artists are often distracted by the concept of progress. We tend to yearn to do the not-yet-done. This is an incorrect conclusion drawn from the desire to be relevant. Everything moves anyway. It is all always moving. “Progress”, in an ultimate sense, is unavoidable. We don’t need to get precious about it.

Instead, we should create. And, it should be noted, creativity and creation are not always the same thing. Though we tend to give higher praise to the person who creates a thing from nothing than we do to the person who builds on and/or perfects it, this should not be our chief aspiration. Cyprianism seeks to learn as much from its history as it does by creating its future.

Cyprian Art rejects the preeminence of “concept”.

Sitting in the eighteenth century atelier of François Boucher, you would not likely have heard him speak much of the “concept” of his work. This doesn’t mean his work was without concept, only that the idea of “concept” was not the preeminent force in the art world that it is today. Modern work often relies so heavily on concept that Beauty is discarded. Though concept is an important element in the creation of art, it cannot sacrifice Beauty on its altar.

Cyprian Art is alive with the “knowing wink”.

When Picasso said “All art is erotic”, he spoke of that special relationship between artist and subject and/or artist and viewer which should contain all the unique mutualities of the S~xual experience.

Without that lustful, S~xual expression, there is no Cyprianist art. Music, sculpture, painting, flower arranging, dance, drama. . .if it lacks S~xuality, it is uselss. When The Seed says “All great art admits Lust”, it speaks not only of Cyprianist art being erotic – though it often is – but that S~xual narrative that underpins the energy in a Cyprian piece. A chief aim of Cyprianism is to give (a sometimes unconscious) shape and voice to the intangible (and often subtle) Erotic Force.

Master Rodin said, “For him who has eyes to see, nudity offers the richest meaning.“ Yet because Cyprianism rejects the “needlessly crude” it may be more difficult to create truly poetic works with nude and/or explicit content. Humans react to exposed flesh and sexual themes regardless of technical artistic mastery. Especially when a work is explicit, as, often enough, Cyprianist work tends to be.

S~xuality can be as raw as it can be elegant. But it is never written in shorthand. That is to say, two seemingly identical works may possess the same elements – subject, story, composition, color, technique – and yet one is clearly Cyprian and the other is but a shell.

Take, for example, Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du monde – an explicitly erotic work, and Cyprianist beyond compare. It had as much power to provoke in its day as it does now, even though images of exposed vulvas are much easier to come by than they once were. A quick internet search provides thousands of instances. Both the Courbet and the internet search have the power to arouse, but one will stand the test of time while the next thirty seconds of history will have swept away the other. And, they both have their useful place. However, many people cannot get past the their own ideas of morality to see a masterwork of Poetry in Courbet’s sumptuous depiction. They quickly and easily lump both examples in the same category of pornographic trash.

And, still, we struggle to put definition to the difference that certainly exists. Perhaps Odilon Redon approached it when he said, “A painter is not intellectual when having painted a nude woman, he leaves in our minds the idea that she is going to get dressed again right away.” Certainly, Courbet’s muse is the epitome of bare languor.

Courbet’s L’Origine du monde

To be fair, let us examine Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s Les hasards heureux de l’escarpolette (The Happy Accidents of the Swing). In this work, there is not an exposed bit of naughty flesh. In fact, there are yards and yards of voluptuous rococo fashion; fabric covering each player in the whimsical scene. Yet both Fragonard and the patron for which he painted it considered it a sexually provocative piece, as did guests at the unveiling who were flush with arousal and excitement. There are many erotic elements at work in this piece even though it is not explicit. Our cultural sensibilities tend to interpret this work as innocent in its frivolity. It is, however, Fragonard’s masterful S~xual intention that elevates it to a masterwork of Cyprianist art.

Fragonard’s Les Hasards Heureux de l’Escarpolette

Cyprian Art is created by living life as a ritual gift.

The Beautiful Life of Cyprianism is lived with a ceremonial flourish. Master Rodin said, “Art is always sacred.” Because of this, we value ritual above convenience, believing that every step removed from a process contains in it the potential and tendency to pull us from our connection with the underpinning cadence of The Current. The creative process is best fed by becoming a virtuoso of moments. Without exception, intentional acts of ritual set us at a different pace than the rest of the world.

Cyprian Art is regenerative.

Cyprianist art animates and gives life. It is the breath beneath the breath. If the Butterfly Effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions of chaos theory, then Cyprianism is the butterflies in your stomach. It is like Lust, a thick connective energy that resonates in mystical places, creating pleasurable sensations written as memories upon The Current, giving immortality to art and artist.

Cyprian Art represents the Principles, themes, legends and rituals of Cyprianism.

Cyprianism has a spiritually consanguineous lineage that dates back more than two thousand four hundred years to an Athenian cult of Beauty made up of artists and sacred courtesans. They called themselves the Knights of Paphos and codified a system of practice that informs modern Cyprianism. Since that time, several other iterations of like groups have organized under similar tenets and beliefs and from them all we have been passed a rich legacy of traditions, stories, personalities, rituals, virtues, symbols analogies and principles which have become common threads in works of the Cyprian method. Cyprianist art tends, but is not obligated, to explore as its subject this luxurious volume of content, such as The Birth of Venus, The Origin of Shame (Eve), Elpida’s Jar (Pandora’s Box), Aphrodite, Phryne, Salomê, The Affair of Breasts and Wine, Anthis’ Dance, Knowledge Over Superstition, The Liberty of Privilege, Moonlight and much more. The canon of Cyprian inspiration is a wealth of seeds fertile for exploration. An intense study of them can provide a lifetime of catalysis for creation and epiphany for the pursuit of a truly Beautiful Life.