The phrase 'genius' has been debased in our sound bite age, but when a true Master Of Cinema pays a visit to Ireland, respect is due. And make no mistake, Alejandro Jodorowsky is a true artist.

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The Chilean-born Jodorowsky's reputation primarily rests upon his psychedelic '70s movies El Topo and The Holy Mountain, jaw-dropping surrealist cult classics that remain singular (and unsurpassed) to this day. The man's oeuvre encompasses film, theatre, music, literature (he's an acclaimed writer of graphic novels and a celebrated poet) and spirituality - above all else, a seeker. What's more, in the last couple of years Jodorowsky has returned to film and directed two acclaimed autobiographical films, The Dance Of Reality and Endless Poetry (there are three more in the pipeline), while the celebrated documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune chronicled his doomed attempt to adapt Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic for the big screen. At 88 years of age, he remains a formidable creative being, one with the passion and playful energy of a teenager. 

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The great man came to the Irish Museum Of Modern Art earlier this week to celebrate his contributions to As Above, So Below, an acclaimed exhibition at IMMA presenting perspectives on spirituality from a range of unique artistic viewpoints, featuring abstract masterworks by Kandinsky and Klint alongside contemporary work by Steve McQueen, Bruce Nauman and Jodorowsky, among others. In a captivating and wide-ranging discussion with IMMA Head of Exhibitions Rachael Thomas, the sprightly octogenarian (accompanied by his wife, fellow artist Pascale Montandon-Jodorowsky) was in rare form, using each - relatively straightforward - question as a springboard for a fascinating, anecdote-packed wander through an extraordinary life.

Alejandro Jodorowsky and his wife, artist Pascale Montandon-Jodorowsky, at IMMA

From his days in Paris studying mime with the legendary Marcel Marceau ("Who are you?" "I'm Alejandro Jodorowsky." "Who?" "I'm here to save surrealism!") to the secret to remaining creative in your '80s ("I have no age. We don't have age. The soul never grows old. The soul doesn't age.") to his quest to escape the tyranny of ego ("My life isn't important. My relationships are important. The happiness we bring one another is the most important."), Jodorowsky kept the packed house enthralled as he detailed the ongoing spiritual journey that has informed his life as an artist. The audience Q&A portion of the event was kicked off by a rather intense young man seeking direction in life - he had already consulted the tarot deck designed by Jodorowsky, a renowned tarot scholar. The master responded that the question came from the man's head - he needed to think more with his heart.

Following the discussion, Jodorowsky took a moment to stress the need for art in an increasingly tumultuous political landscape: "A lot of dark powers are at play in the world today. In this moment, we cannot fight this power like individuals, as it is far too immense - but together we can work for change. And what I cannot do in the exterior, I will do in my interior, with art - if I cannot change the world, I can change myself. And I need to work on myself, because I am part of the totality, a part of the world, so if I work on my health, my consciousness, my freedom... So all we need to change today, is change ourselves."

As Above, So Below is at IMMA until August 27th - details here.