Narcoleptic Artist Paints Eerie Visions From Sleep Paralysis
Rebis Alobar never intended to be an artist. He had planned on becoming a fighter pilot and attending the United States Air Force Academy after he graduated high school. Sadly, however, the summer between Rebis' junior and senior year he was diagnosed with narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder most famous for its ability to cause seemingly random bouts of deep sleep during normal waking periods. In addition to these "sleep attacks," narcolepsy can also cause intermittent muscle failure, or cataplexy, hallucinations, intense and vivid dreams, and sleep paralysis, a state of half wake/half sleep where the sufferer experiences total paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations, and a variety of frightening physical sensations. Rebis has been suffering bouts of sleep paralysis regularly for over 15 years and it is during these, often terrifying times, he "sees" his art.
"It's like there's some deeply hidden ethereal truth we can see when we're asleep," Rebis Said when reached for comment, "But it's communicated to us non-symbolically, that is to say, our waking selves can never find a way to express these truths because while our subconscious mind may comprehend the non-symbolic, our conscious minds are only able to use symbols to communicate.
"I like to think of it like this: Say there is a beautiful and glowing orb that represents deeper knowledge. When you look directly at it you learn a deeper truth. But this orb can only exist inside a vat of thick tar, the tar representing your dream-state mind and subconscious. As soon as you try and pull the orb out, it dissolves and all you have is the tar that was at on point touching the orb, so you throw that tar on a canvas as quick as you can and an image takes shape. These paintings are an attempt to make symbolic that which cannot be expressed in symbolism. They come from a part of my mind that has been so near a greater truth."
Rebis' "artist statement" reads thusly: " I have narcolepsy. It’s a neurological disorder which causes me to fall asleep uncontrollably. A severe symptom of this condition is known as sleep paralysis. I’ve seen sleep paralysis referred to as “the most terrifying sleep disorder” and read about how it is caused by “demons” or is the closest one can ever come to “waking up dead.” For me, it is a way of life. I experience this phenomenon at least once a week. And yes, at one point it was just as horrifying as they say. But in my aging, I’ve learned to look at those instances, not as traumatic, but as an opportunity. An opportunity to explore a new ethereal frontier. To launch expeditions of the consciousness into the world between reality and nightmares, between the conscious and the subconscious, between this world and the next. But this place I go on these journeys inward, it has no tangible artifacts, nothing I can carry with me. All I collect is intangible. All I offer is art. Strange depictions of emotion and concept that just scratch the surface of what they attempt to represent. I lay paralyzed, in a dream-state with open eyes and contemplate the nature of existence, exploring the ethereal frontier, and this is...what I bring back"
All paintings are a combination of oil, acrylic, and charcoal on canvas.
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