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EDITOR John Maizels DIRECTORS Henry Boxer, Robert Greenberg, Audrey Heckler, Rebecca Hoffberger, Frank Maresca, Marilyn Oshman, Richard Rosenthal, Bob Roth ART EDITOR Maggie Jones Maizels SENIOR EDITOR Edward M. Gómez FEATURES EDITOR Nuala Ernest ASSOCIATE EDITOR Natasha Jaeger ASSISTANT EDITOR Mariella Landolfi DESIGN Jack Eden PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Aoife Dunphy ACCOUNTS MANAGER Judith Edwards SUBSCRIPTIONS MANAGER Suzy Daniels CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Michael Bonesteel, Jenifer P. Borum, Ted Degener, Jo Farb Hernandez, Tom Patterson, Colin Rhodes, Charles Russell, Daniel Wojcik PUBLISHED by Raw Vision Ltd Letchmore Heath WD25 8LN, UK tel +44 (0)1923 853175 email website

ISSN 0955-1182

4 14 16 24 32 38 46 54 62 66 72 78 88

RAW NEWS Outsider events and exhibitions around the world

ROGER CARDINAL The world of outsider art loses a champion

ROGER CARDINAL INTERVIEW In conversation with Roger McDonald in 2017

GERRY DALTON The discovery of a rare London outsider environment

GERALDO GONZALEZ Philadelphia’s roads and railways depicted in technicolour

CARLO ZINELLI The two sides of Zinelli’s graphic artwork

JAMES CASTLE An artist’s personal view of his Idaho home

WILLIAM THOMAS THOMPSON The messages within the US artist’s latest works

CARRIE REICHARDT Why an artist covered her west London house in vivid mosaic

COLIN McKENZIE Unique techniques and new works from the Scottish artist

NANJING OUTSIDER ART STUDIO Psychiatric patients in China find sanctuary in creating art

RAW REVIEWS Worldwide exhibitions and events

GALLERY & MUSEUM GUIDE Details of notable international venues

COVER IMAGE: Roger Cardinal, Outsider Art, 1972 Raw Vision library

Raw Vision (ISSN 0955-1182) September/October 2019 is published quarterly (March, June, September, December) by Raw Vision Ltd, PO Box 44, Watford WD25 8LN, UK, and distributed in the USA by UKP Worldwide, 3390 Rand Road, South Plainfield, NJ 07080. Periodicals postage paid at South Plainfield, NJ. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Raw Vision c/o 3390 Rand Road, South Plainfield, NJ 07080, and additional mailing offices.

Raw Vision cannot be held responsible for the return of unsolicited material. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Raw Vision.









Feb 25 – Mar 4

Jan 12 – Mar 8

Oswald Tshirtner

Until February 28, galerie gugging celebrates 25 years with an exhibition presented as a timeline, showing 25 artworks by 25 gugging artists. From February 13 until September 27 museum gugging dedicates a comprehensive show to mark what would have been Tschirtner’s 100th birthday in oswald tschirtner.! it’s all about balance. GALERIE AND MUSEUM GUGGING Am Campus 2, A-3400 Maria Gugging, AUSTRIA,



until Dec 31, 2020

until Feb 16

Jan 22–26


Anthony Stevens

Unhinged: On Jitterbugs, Melancholics and Mad-Doctors stresses the importance of mental wellbeing in an increasingly complex society. MUSEUM DR GUISLAIN Jozef Guislainstraat 43, 9000 Ghent, BELGIUM



Anna Zemánková

For the first time in Austria, a solo exhibition is dedicated to the extensive oeuvre of Czech artist Anna Zemánková (1908–1986). ÖSTERREICHISCHE GESELLSCHAFT VOM GOLDENEN KREUZE Kärntner Straße 26/ Eingang, Marco-d'Aviano-Gasse 1, 1010 Vienna, AUSTRIA. 4


August Walla

until Jan 31

Autobiographic explores the aesthetic diaries of two authors from the alternative history of 20th century art: Carlo Zinelli and Valerie Potter. Organised in collaboration with La Fondazione Culturale Carlo Zinelli and Jennifer Lauren Gallery. THE GALLERY OF EVERYTHING 4 Chiltern St, Marylebone, London W1U 7PS, UK

Sulton Rogers


The Jennifer Lauren Gallery returns with Monochromatic Minds: Lines of Revelation, a group show of outsider artists from around the world, dedicated to working predominantly in black and white. The biggest selection of monochromatic work that has been presented together in the UK, with artists including Madge Gill, Michel Nedjar, Davood Koochaki and Donald Mitchell. CANDID ARTS CENTRE 3 Torrens Street, London, EC1V 1NQ, UK

Valerie Potter


until Feb 28, Feb 13 – Sep 27

Evelyne Postic


A Unique Vision: Outsider and Self-Taught Art presents artists represented by Henry Boxer Gallery, including Madge Gill, Donald Pass, George Widener, William A Hall. ORLEANS HOUSE GALLERY, Riverside, Twickenham TW1 3DJ

Outside In presents textiles by selftaught artist Anthony Stevens, influenced by his practice of Nichiren Buddhism.

The Black Sheep Gallery presents A Gathering of Haints – Sulton Rogers 1922-2003. THE BLACK SHEEP GALLERY, 1689 West Jeddore Road, West Jeddore Village, Nova Scotia, CANADA



until Jan 31

until Mar 15

until Mar 15

Egidio Cuniberti

Willem van Genk

Marilena Pelosi, courtesy: Andre Rocha


Willem van Genk: WOEST is a large retrospective at the Outsider Art Museum, designed by Belgian fashion designer Walter Van Beirendonck. The show will then travel to the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne and the Hermitage in St Petersburg. OUTSIDER ART MUSEUM, Hermitage Amsterdam Amstel 51, 1018 DR Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS

Maroncelli 12 presents a selection of 20 paintings in Egidio Cuniberti. The sticks of Mondovì. MARONCELLI 12 Via Maroncelli, 12 – 20154 Milan, ITALY.

Curated by António Saint Silvestre of Treger Saint Silvestre Collection, Lusofolia: Insane Beauty features work by Jaime Fernandes, Manuel Bonifácio, Daniel Gonçalves, Marilena Pelosi and other well-known and lesser-known outsiders, plus drawings by unknown Angolan artists. CENTRO DE ARTE OLIVA Rua da Fundição, 240, São João da Madeira, PORTUGAL 3700-119.


Mar 14 – May 16

Feb 27 – May 3


Seth Prime

Marc Bourlier


until Feb 22

Brenda van Vliet


Hiroyuki Doi

HIROYUKI DOI Feb 8 – Apr 5

Open to Surprises will present a selection of outsider artworks, including pieces by Hiroyuki Doi. MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART TOKYO, Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture Tokyo Shibuya Koen-dori Gallery, Galleries 1 & 2, 1-19-8 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN 8


In Bloosdoos 18 mainstream and outsider artists portray their vision of the naked body. GALERIE ATELIER HERENPLAATS Schietbaanstraat 1, 3014 ZT, Rotterdam NETHERLANDS

Dutch Surrealist painter Paul Klemann will join two outsider artists of his choice: Dutch artist Karhang Mui and Australian artist Seth Prime. GALERIE HAMER, Leliegracht 38 – NL 1015 DH Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS.

Fifty driftwood sculptures by Marc Bourlier will be shown from February 27 through May 3. Also on show through February 9, Hlebine naive art masters. TREBNJE GALLERY OF NAIVE ARTISTS, Goliev trg 1, Trebnje, SLOVENIA




until Mar 1

Jan 16–19


OAF New York 2019, photo: Olya Vysotskaya, courtesy: Wide Open Arts


Museum im Lagerhaus presents the life’s work of Danish artist Louis Marcussen, aka Ovartaci (1894–1985), in Crazy, Queer, and Lovable – Ovartaci. MUSEUM IM LAGERHAUS Davidstrasse 44, 9000 St. Gallen, SWITZERLAND

The Outsider Art Fair has announced its list of exhibitors for the 2020 New York edition, along with new features including a redesigned floor plan and revamped café, three curated projects, special programmes, and first-time exhibitors from Japan, India, and various U.S. cities. Participants for the 28th edition of the Fair include 61 exhibitors, representing 34 cities, from nine countries, with seven first-time galleries. METROPOLITAN PAVILION,125 W. 18th Street, New York, NY 10011



until Feb 16

until Apr 26

until Sep 6

DREAMS – UTOPIAS – VISIONS showcases the work of seven “Romantic Idealists”, including Ben Wilson, Julius Bockelt and Ilmai Salminen. MUSÉE VISIONNAIRE, Predigerplatz 10, 8001 Zurich, SWITZERLAND

The fourth Art Brut Biennial invites visitors to further discover Lausanne museum’s wealth of holdings, with an eye to the presence of theatre in art brut. Works by a selection of 28 creators are presented through costumes, sculptures, drawings, paintings, photographs and cutouts. Until February 2, Carlo Zinelli, Recto Verso features all of Zinelli’s works belonging to the Collection de l'Art Brut holdings, and covers the entire time span – from 1957 to 1972 – of his creative output. COLLECTION DE L'ART BRUT Avenue des Bergières 11 CH – 1004 Lausanne, SWITZERLAND.

William Hall

Julia Krause Harder

Giovanni Battista Podestà, La Fabuloserie, Alain Bourbonnais


THE SECRET LIFE OF EARTH: Alive! Awake! (and possibly really Angry!) celebrates life on earth whilst also reflecting on the wonders and interdependent fragility of living on this planet. Includes work by Julia Butterfly Hill, Peter Eglington, Johanna Burke and Alex Grey. AMERICAN VISIONARY ART MUSEUM 800 Key Highway, Baltimore, MD 21230. RAW VISION 104





until Feb 16

Jan 9 – Mar 5

Michael Garlington

Walter Mika “Funny Bunny”, in collaboration with Pure Vision Arts, features large drawings on wood panels and smaller works on paper. SHRINE, 179 East Broadway, New York, NY 10002.

Thomas Pringle


Jan 10 – Feb 9

Walter Mika


No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man offers a range of special programmes and events at the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA). OAKLAND MUSEUM OF CALIFORNIA 1000 Oak Street, Oakland, CA 94607



Feb 6 – May 3

until Apr 11

Thomas Pringle: Ladies Man celebrates the imaginative world and over 40-year career of artist Thomas Pringle. The solo exhibition pairs Pringle's celebrity portraits and pin-up girl paintings with illustrated short stories that mix fact and fantasy with a wry sense of humour. CREATIVITY EXPLORED GALLERY 3245 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103


With more than 50 artworks from artists including Martín Ramírez, George Widener, Lee Godie, James Castle and more, Outsider Art: The Collection of Victor F Keen spans both gallery spaces at Intuit. INTUIT: THE CENTER FOR INTUITIVE AND OUTSIDER ART, 756 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60642.

Helen Rae

George Widener

Nek Chand

until Jan 26

Vanguard: Origins of Tierra del Sol Arts in Claremont featuring Helen Rae presents works by 15 artists who work or have worked with the Tierra del Sol studios. CLAREMONT MUSEUM OF ART, 200 W. First St., Claremont, CA 91711.

Memory Palaces: Inside the Collection of Audrey B Heckler includes more than 160 artworks by more than 80 artists. Featuring works from European art brut, prominent African-American artists, American classics in the field, and 21st century discoveries from around the globe. AMERICAN FOLK ART MUSEUM 2 Lincoln Square, New York, NY 10023. RAW VISION 104


ROGER CARDINAL 1940–2019 The world of outsider art mourns its strongest advocate, whose influence in establishing a whole new area of contemporary art was immeasurable

photo: Roger McDonald

On November 1, 2019, a bastion of the international outsider art scene, Roger Cardinal, passed away at the age of 79. An art historian, critic, lecturer and writer, he had a long, varied and highly successful career. It was Cardinal who, in the 1970s, came up with the phrase “outsider art” as an English equivalent to Jean Dubuffet’s term art brut and as a title to his own revolutionary 1972 book Outsider Art (London: Studio Vista), the first text on the subject to be written in English. Born in 1940, in wartime Britain, Cardinal was brought up in Bromley on the outskirts of London. He attended a local grammar school, went on to earn a PhD in Surrealist poetry at Cambridge, and then taught modern languages at the University of Kent in southern England, where he held the position of Professor of Literary and Visual Studies. He was soon writing, and published books and texts on



Romanticism, Expressionism, naive art, Henry Moore and Kurt Schwitters. Particularly influential amongst his body of work was Surrealism: Permanent Revelation (London: Studio Vista; 1970), a book he wrote with Robert Short. It was while researching Surrealism that Cardinal came across Dubuffet’s almost clandestine collection of art brut. Fascinated and inspired, he sought out Dubuffet in Paris and, over a three-week period, learned all he could from the septuagenarian. Cardinal’s resulting book, Outsider Art, summarised the key parts of Dubuffet’s work on art brut and expanded on it. It gave an anglophile identity to a hidden, unknown art which was to have great repercussions in the future. I first met Roger Cardinal in the late 1980s when I was carrying out research for the first issue of Raw Vision. I was already a loyal devotee of his as I had

He was the one who sparked the magic of outsider art.

come across his revolutionary book Outsider Art soon after it was published in 1972, and was amazed by what was a whole new world of art that I had had no idea even existed. Gradually, the book became my bible, and inspired me to visit Cheval’s Palais Idéal in France, the huge half building, half sculpture, which was my first direct experience of outsider art. In 1979, Cardinal mounted a ground-breaking exhibition – “Outsiders” – together with Victor Musgrave at the Hayward Gallery in London. This was the first time that the greats of this new genre – including Henry Darger, Madge Gill and Adolf Wölfli – had been presented together. The show blew my mind. It broke all attendance records and had a profound and lasting impact, leading many people to discover the incredible world of outsider art. However, Cardinal must have been deeply disappointed by the way both his book and the exhibition were ignored, and even ridiculed, by the British art establishment. The Hayward show was universally condemned by the London critics, who described it as “the daubings of madmen” and claimed it had no place in a serious art gallery. The vehemence of the censure and intolerance was shocking. Meanwhile, the book had not sold well (it has been out of print for years) and, when I first knew Cardinal, he felt that nobody was interested in his great passion. Little did he know what he had set off. The next few years saw the launch of Raw Vision magazine, the establishment of the American Visionary Art Museum and the Folk Art Society of America, and the founding of the first Outsider Art Fair in New York. These developments pushed outsider art into the limelight and reinforced the importance of Cardinal’s theories and writings. Cardinal was a true visionary whose influence in the establishment of an entire new field of contemporary art is immeasurable. The explosion of interest in outsider art and its incredible rise around the world in the last 30 years, especially in the anglosphere, stems from his book and writings. His work has spawned thousands of books and publications, hundreds of specialist libraries and collections, regular huge museum exhibitions in many cities, and thousands of art gallery shows. Without Cardinal, I doubt that outsider art would ever have had such a strong identity and become such a celebrated area of contemporary art. He can be seen as the third primal influence of outsider art, following

in the footsteps of Hans Prinzhorn and Jean Dubuffet, and securing his place in art history. As Dubuffet developed Prinzhorn’s discoveries into the realm of art brut, so Cardinal developed Dubuffet’s original vision and saw outsider art as an unstoppable phenomenon taking place on the margins of established culture. Although still overlooked in his native land, Cardinal must be the most influential art historian – in the scope and reach of his theories and writings – that Britain has produced since Bernard Berenson or Ernst Gombrich. One of Cardinal’s great understandings was the role of art within our culture, the way that – whatever the hold that culture may have over free expression – it will inevitably force itself forward. He conveyed this notion in his essay Marginalia: All creativity lacking official authorisation must start life in the shadows, with every expectation of remaining anonymous, beneath contempt, practically invisible. In our Western culture, obscure and extraneous off-shoots are ignored, or else outlawed and suppressed.Yet, though weeds may be banished from the central beds of a formal garden, they are still capable of sturdy growth and a beauty of their own. It's important to recognise that so much of our thinking is conditioned by inherited prejudice.The very distinction between “weed” and “flower” is a cultural construct rather than a natural truth. Any celebration of creativity “in the margins” is already hampered by the fact we must start on the defensive, wrestling with conceptual dualisms from which we should prefer to be free. Extract from “Marginalia” essay, by Roger Cardinal, in Marginalia, Museum De Stadshof, 2000, p. 51 Roger Cardinal was extremely helpful in setting up Raw Vision, and encouraged and backed everything the magazine has done over the last three decades. However much the world of outsider out will miss him as a great art historian and giant intellect, I will personally also miss him very much as a kind and considerate friend and colleague who was always there to support me and offer advice and insight. I feel privileged and humbled to have known Roger and to have been able to share a little of his life. John Maizels



ROGER CARDINAL ON RECORD Roger Cardinal, termed here as the “father’’ of outsider art, was interviewed for a Japanese publication by Roger McDonald in 2017

Cardinal, 2017, photo: Roger McDonald

RM: It would be interesting to begin by asking you what you were doing just before you wrote Outsider Art in 1972, what guided you to writing this book? RC: I wrote a book on Surrealism with a friend, Robert Short, called Surrealism: Permanent Revelation which came out in 1970. Our publisher was a small press called Studio Vista who were working on the idea of putting out a library of books about Surrealism and about the avant-garde generally. I had been researching the movement in Paris, and I was asked if I had something I would like to write about. I said that I would like to look at the writings and the verbal imaging of Arthur Rimbaud, the French poet and general traveller and miscreant, who fascinated me. Beyond that I realised that there was something else



happening in the world, in the visual field, and I suspect part of the reason I switched into that had to do with the long work we’d had tracking down visual material for the book on Surrealism. With that context, I looked about and realised that Rimbaud was going to be a matter of tracking down material that I already had, but that was overtaken by another trend whose origin I can’t be sure about, but a move to the visual was taking place. I think it was probably part of my career profile in my move from French literature through to comparative literature to a more lenient definition of what literary study would be. At some stage, I was asked if I had thought of Jean Dubuffet’s idea of art brut. It took me very little time to warm to this suggestion and, with the little knowledge I had at that point of what was going on in the world of

non-academic art, I saw that here was a demonstration respect; one should travel with these people in of some of Rimbaud’s ideas: to take seriously the mind, they are part of your intellectual equipment. dream, to let the imagination be a primary element in So, to get back to Dubuffet, I was invited by any creative work and to rely on things going wrong, someone to think about Dubuffet and my publisher in a different direction from what you had planned. said that this was interesting and go and find out more Felicitous accidents have always attracted me anyway, about it. At some point I wrote a proposal for a book on and I think a lot of the thinking around the principles “The Art of the Artless”. This was a title at one point, of Surrealism had to do with whether I could make I remember. something out of it myself, to know about it – A lot of outsider art rotates around issues of homemade collage-making, cutting out pictures personality, of who I am. So this kind of research could from magazines has always been an interest of mine. be dangerous and provocative and damaging to you in I had heard about such a way that you may Dubuffet, but hadn’t never be able to write a realised that he was book again. I was in my producing a kind of early 40s and still young revolutionary enough to feel that I movement by letting could take charge of loose a few statements this. So I went to Paris to that other people took get ammunition for this up, wondering what he book, effectively like meant and how that a kind of intellectual raid fitted into their own on Dubuffet, who didn’t knowledge of the seem to mind very avant-garde. In his much. When I went to pronouncements he is see him and spoke to saying something like: him he had seen my I think I know that there proposal and the first is something else that chapter or so of my you’ve missed entirely, book. So, day by day over and if you take a look about three weeks, I was at these people who looking at this material happen to be thwarted – taking three or four in their normal life and artists per day for study development, or have and research, with had a bad accident guidance from Dubuffet happen to them, or a himself through his girlfriend that never writings, because he wrote back – there can was the author of several be so many reasons why pamphlets about the people drop into some general sphere of art kind of mood of apathy brut and also of a series or depression. of books containing Surrealism sensitises articles which he me to that too, because masterminded. Dubuffet they studied things like was a guerrilla warfare Cardinal in his study, 2017, photo: Roger McDonald suicide. Surrealism made man really; he was use of anti right-wing positions. For example, they took launching these things onto an unsuspecting up the Marquis de Sade as one of their heroes just to Parisian world and not many people took any get everybody mad. They found the way forward to notice unfortunately. do something off-putting to the enemy which is the bourgeois, the educational system and the political You speak about an “alternative kind of art” in right. So these things are bouncing around in the the book and how during this period Dubuffet is background. It became obvious that I found something critiquing an academic idea of art. From today’s really good in Dubuffet’s theories and I began to read perspective, where the art world is so expansive his polemic and thinking that here is another Surrealist! and incorporates anything, it sounds like a different He belongs in the same kind of pantheon of people world. Was it so rigidified and policed then? that one should know about and that one should Well, this all happened long ago, and it’s long dead.



Catalogue cover for “Outsiders” at the Hayward Gallery, London, 1979

At the time, I was starting to write and recognise names of artists that I had never heard of. The time was right for certain things to happen. The fact is that my book was largely ignored. There was a paperback version for America, and a hardback version in England. It didn’t sell at all. One’s pride is also part of this, of course! You think that the book was so good that nobody wants to read it because it will upset them, in a good way, and make them doubt their own premises about art. I think many artists found out about it and were ready to be indoctrinated into this alternative world. Do you think that initially it was perhaps artists that read the book, and later critics and historians? We had an exhibition later in 1979, the “Outsiders” exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London. Dubuffet had already shown some of his collection in public – up until then it was mostly secret. This was another reason that I was so grateful to him for approving my work. I don’t think he read it – his English was not that good – but he could see where I was headed and he seemed to be quite pleased about the whole enterprise. So there we are in 1972 with a book that summarised the best of Dubuffet, that added in some other people that I had found out about, so that I was able to have a more impressive grouping of intellectual references: namely to Prinzhorn, the great collector of psychotic art, Walter Morgenthaler who looked after Adolf Wölfli and wrote the first book about him, and Leo Navratil of the Gugging Collection who was also



looking at art made by people with mental problems. Gradually things became normal to me: “Oh here’s another person that had visions, here’s another artist that’s said to be suicidal and then began to see things on the wall that they began to copy, and here’s another person that’s had this bad luck in their life and started bringing pebbles from the sea home and stuck them all round their house”. If you look carefully, you will see many recurrences in the Dubuffet collection, as in my book, that people in the world need to express themselves and find the way to do that largely through their own efforts to make a picture. They may have heard about picture-making usually – one can hardly avoid it in our culture – but they haven’t any reason to go and get help to make pictures. Nowadays, they may be given instructions and backup and material blessings like fountain pens. Scottie Wilson started his career fiddling around with fountain pens in an old second-hand shop in Toronto, improvising on the table top. Many people that we call outsider artists have very banal beginnings. Their work is extraordinary and we often recognise that it comes from some event in the past, a wound, a disappointment, a bullet wound – there are many ways that people have a really bad thing happen to them. Not all of them turn to making a picture or make patterns or visual forms, but some do. People make pictures with a reason to express themselves, and the next question is whom are they addressing? Are they telling themselves, “This happened to me and I am going to make a picture because other people seem to be interested... ”? Other people will feel very happy about life – maybe they have never had a disappointment, they have always been looked after – but at the age of 80 they are ready to round things off and with some stimulus they might launch themselves bravely into the activity of picturemaking. So why do people do pictures? Well, they do them because something makes them feel that that’s a good thing to be doing, it makes you feel happier. You don’t want to be rushed. If you had to do a picture by five o’clock you would say, I will first do a sketch for a picture but it won’t be my best. If you bully people into doing pictures, like they sometimes do in school, you don’t bring the best out in people. Does it have to be a picture? It can be a picture, a carving, a scribble, a graffiti, chalk on the pavement in front of the National Gallery. It is a way of transmitting something that you feel is urgent into the outer world where it can be read by other people and, more importantly, read by you the maker. I suppose this is something that you find in artists generally; they know that the work has come from them, they remember the parts they got wrong or the part where they went off the edge of the paper and had to stick it on later. Artists know their work intimately, even years later they will recognise their own work. I think Picasso

said, “If I like it, I’ll sign it”! He couldn’t remember every single drawing that he ever made. Generally, artists are very attached to their work and don’t always like to sell it. If you are a genuine artist, you know that it is going to come back tomorrow, this urge to make a picture. Stimuli can come from all directions. Not everything is painful; some of it is, some of it is necessary; you have to cough something up and make it work. You’ve got to please an audience that you have more or less imagined because you can’t run out in the street while you’re painting. You’ve got to organise that. Whether this is relevant to outsider art is a matter of individual choice, but many artists who we are thinking about here as outsider artists have had no training, no compulsion to work as an artist, no materials and nobody in the family or no elder brother telling you what to do, and on the whole nobody in the social world that you know that would say, “These works are good, I’ll take you to my gallery friend and see what we can do”. This is maybe a risk for artists, for the collector who has followed you and sees that you are going in the wrong direction as soon as you enter a gallery setting. In a sense, you are changed, as Scottie Wilson found. He had come from Canada where he had one or two exhibitions in Toronto. When he arrived in England, he was taken up by a gallery in London who put his pictures on the wall in splendid frames, and they had an opening with people drinking sherry. Scottie Wilson is outside looking through the door thinking, “This is not me,” and he had a few pictures on him, which he was going to show the gallerist, but he began passing them out to passers-by for a knock-down price, whereas inside the gallery they are selling for £150. So you can see that there are quite subversive elements starting up in the challenge that Dubuffet perhaps articulated. You use a lovely phrase in the book: “possessed of an expressive impulse”. There are links here with shamanistic traditions and other kinds of sacred traditions, mediums and trance. I am very fond of the idea of the stimulus, that something comes from somewhere and makes you feel that you’ve got to get on with something. I suppose in the Middle Ages in a Christian context, it would be read as giving your soul over to some other force, a surrender. All of those references you just mentioned are the happy hunting ground of the anthropologist, but also belong to outsider art studies; one should also know about this. A lot of cave art, for instance, has the character of pure outsider art because there is no canon, there is no school master as far as we can tell, there is no duress involved. They could be seen as highly inventive sign systems that translate a mood of absolute pleasure and release.

Cardinal, 2017, photo: Roger McDonald

It is interesting that many artists who work in the mainstream also intentionally try to induce altered states of consciousness through various means. Henri Michaux would be one good example. There has been a fluid dialogue between what we call established art and outsider art. I wonder how much Dubuffet allowed for this dialogue in his writings, as it can seem as though he sweeps everything away that was not under the rubric of art brut. Yes, this would date back to a certain historical time, the Romantics and the Modernists. Dubuffet was in touch with many artists and he was interested in “matière” (materiality) and textures. He was very self-conscious as an artist, he would number and label everything. He was a hard worker with his own built-in corrective element that said, “Stop this now and move onto something else”. He was also very adept at playing the market, even though Dubuffet did not want this to be a part of the art brut conversation. Some artists push the work away so that they don’t have to keep justifying it, perhaps they get bored with the same old questions being asked. I think that Dubuffet turned to something new because he always had that impish sense of making pictures that nobody is going to like. Magritte tried this too in his Vache paintings, and it’s a gesture which you watch happening. You can’t really admire these pictures, but you can see them as part of a gesture and another kind of expression which comes out of a distaste for market-making activity and labels with money signs on them.



GERRY’S POMPEII In a modest little flat and garden backing onto a canal, London’s outsider art discovery of a decade has just been unearthed MARIELLA LANDOLFI

above: Emperors Trajan, Hadrian, Titus, Vespasian, 'The Mighty Caesars', cast concrete, house paint, found gems, 10 x 73 x 5 in / 26 x 185 x 13 cm opposite: buildings, including Hampton Court Palace, Westminster Abbey, Balmoral, Buckingham Palace, 1980s–1990s, wood, plaster, plastic sheets, gems, lids, found objects All photos by Jill Mead, unless otherwise stated; all work created between 1996 and 2019, unless otherwise stated

Gerry Dalton was a lovely man. That’s what his neighbours say. They also like what he did with his place. Located in an ordinary street in Westbourne Park, in west London, it is a ground-floor, social-housing flat with a garden that backs on to the Grand Union Canal. Dalton died recently and for now the property is uninhabited. Actually, strictly speaking, it is not uninhabited. It is populated with Dalton’s artwork. In the garden are dozens of knee-high statues made of concrete and mixed media. Historical figures, military heroes, members of royalty, Roman emperors, poets and other famous people are lined up in rows, like soldiers, wearing reclaimed, sparkling objects, like



military decoration, and each boasting a concrete scrawled nameplate. At the end of the garden, down a few steps on to the canal bank, are yet more statues. They are standing guard along a 50-metre-long wall painted grey and studded all over with decorative tiles, fancy doorknobs, plaques, padlocks, a Jack Daniels hip flask, and other quirky market-stall finds. Facing outwards, the mural is an astonishing sight to behold for passersby on the canal or its towpath. Inside the small flat itself there is also a treasuretrove of the late artist’s creative output. The walls are hung, all over, very neatly, with Dalton’s vivid paintings and collages of royalty, each one framed and titled. And

Interior of Westminster Abbey, first floor (above, left) and ground floor (above, right), 1998, wood, plaster, drawers, gems, cardboard, magazines cuttings, found objects including Playmobile

carefully positioned on the floor are 20 or so models of famous British buildings – such as Buckingham Palace and St Paul’s Cathedral – complete with removeable roofs which when lifted reveal rooms decorated in tiny, meticulous detail. This interior and exterior sculptural environment is Dalton’s unique vision of history, which he spent the last 30 years or so of his life quietly creating, at one point nicknaming it “Gerry’s Pompeii”. His choice of creative hobby for his retirement days could not have been predicted from his early life. Born in 1935, in Athlone on the River Shannon in Ireland, Dalton was brought up on the family farm which dealt in livestock and vegetables. He and his sister Kitty went to school locally but, as he said, they “didn’t get much education really, too much time taken up with Irish language instead of other subjects we should have been doing”. His formal education ended prematurely when he became too ill with asthma to go to lessons. The war was on, times were hard and the young Dalton did his bit for the family working on the farm. And, although technically underage, he did time in the army for a while too: “Doing just duty, you know. I didn’t shoot anybody”. With his strong work ethic, he went on to a lifetime of almost constant employment in a



variety of jobs, crossing paths with people from all walks of life, from factory workers and postal porters to film stars and royalty. His first position was as a gardener for a retired English Colonel who had a large house in Ireland with an impressive garden. Dalton said: “He inspired me, he did really, because every tree in the world was planted around that house, it was unbelievable, trees I never heard of and have never seen since”. By 1959, Dalton had moved to London and was working on the railways in the parcel depot. He said, “Very busy station Paddington in those days. They handled thousands of parcels. North-east wind blowing in there... Freezing used to be in January”. A few years later, he moved on to Victoria Station where he would sometimes direct passengers to the trains and carry their luggage: “They’d give us a tip. Film stars and everything came to Victoria, going to the Continent. Even John Wayne came there”. Dalton would come across high-profile figures again when – after a stint cleaning in an aircraft factory – he began working in kitchens, one of which was in a prestigious business organisation in London’s Hyde Park Corner. “Prince Charles... Prince Philip and all came there,” he said. He had moved into his Westbourne Grove flat in

Detail of back garden with statues

1983, and 12 years later, aged about 60, he retired. Around the same time he lost a loved one and Dalton found himself alone with no structure or purpose to his days. However, he was not one to sit idle watching TV, and found pleasure in having a task. While visiting museums and, in particular, watching the Trooping of the Colour at Buckingham Palace, he found inspiration for a new pastime – modelling. “1996 I think I made my first statue,” he said. ”Leo Casey – an Irish poet. I was and I wasn’t pleased in a way, because I had to go back over it three or four times before I got it right. But it gave me encouragement to do some more which I did. I wanted to do a lot of statues.” And he did: Charles II, William III, James II, Louis XIV (“My favourite. Did a pretty good job on him. He was a man that built Versailles, didn’t he?”), Anne Boleyn, and many more. His criterion for choosing a subject was that he or she had done something for the country, that they were brilliant in their own way, especially on the battlefield. Dalton worked in the garden on his statues in the summer when the weather was warm. During the cold winter months, he would work inside his flat, creating wall paintings – by putting his own brushstrokes on to old prints and photographs of famous people – and

constructing his miniature buildings using photos and books for reference. “I made Hampton Court Palace with a hammer and chisel and saw – that’s all the tools I had. That took quite a while... Worked into the night,“ he said. Kensington Palace followed, then St Paul’s Cathedral: “I did the crypt and even did the tombs. I did Sudeley Castle where Catherine Parr is buried. Not bad. For a beginner, I suppose. I also did Windsor Castle. I managed to do the tower, anyway. It even looks better than the real one”. He decorated the interiors using tiny cut-out images as paintings on the walls, and fashioning miniature thrones and four-poster beds from concrete and swatches of fabric. Many of Dalton’s creations are daubed somewhere in his trademark colour of shamrock green – the base of a figurine, the border of a painting, the dome of a building – and a good number are carefully labelled with relevant historical facts and quotes. When spring came round again, Dalton would move back outside and resume his work on the statues. He carried on in this way, season to season, year to year, until he had dozens of statues of historical figures, and buildings covering the floor of nearly every room, leaving little space for furniture (even the bathroom



THE KING OF TRANSIT A long-held fascination with buses and trains, and their orderly routines, powers the technicoloured work of Geraldo Gonzalez ANNE E BOWLER and NANCY JOSEPHSON Watching Geraldo Gonzalez draw is a study in concentration. A laptop sits open on the table in front of him, churning out sounds from videos that he has made at the bus station in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware: the crank and hum of engines starting and idling, the hissing of doors opening and closing to discharge passengers, the distinctive pneumatic “whoosh� of an air brake system. The videos, which Gonzalez has taught himself to edit, are an integral part of his meticulous, formulaic process of working. Stacks of boxes of Crayola coloured pencils sit to one side, along with a canister in which he discards the shavings from the small, handheld sharpener he frequently uses.

Having sketched the general outline of a drawing in graphite pencil, Gonzalez then begins the process of bringing the composition to life in coloured pencil. The intensity with which he applies each segment of colour produces bold, deeply saturated hues that pulse with energy. The bus, rendered with precise attention to detail, is positioned at a crossroad made up of multicoloured lines. In the background, the horizon is drawn in vivid, striated bands of colour, the trajectory of lines forming rays of technicolour brilliance shooting out of each segment. Born in 1988, Gonzalez began drawing buses at the age of 15, the time at which he first experienced using the Wilmington bus system on his own. His knowledge

SEPTA Broad Street Line at City Hall, 2014, graphite and coloured pencil on paper, 28 x 22 in. / 71 x 56 cm



SEPTA Bus in Center City Philadelphia, 2016, graphite pencil, coloured pencil and watercolour on paper, 22 x 28 in. / 56 x 71 cm



Railroad Land, 2018, graphite and coloured pencil on paper, 28 x 22 in. / 71 x 56 cm

of public transit – the vehicles and their histories, routes (that stretch from Philadelphia to Newark, Delaware, some 42 miles south), and their timetables – is encyclopedic. Known by friends as “The King of Transit” and “Busman”, his expertise is matched only by his dedication and enthusiasm. He has been taking photographs of buses and trains since 2002 when, at 13, he wanted to capture images of an old model of bus before it was taken out of circulation. Along with pictures from the internet, the videos and photos make up the source material for most of his drawings. When Gonzalez walked into Creative Vision Factory (CVF) in 2011, he found an artistic home. Director Michael Kalmbach had invited him to come along to the new, peer-run art facility which, funded by the state, was aimed at individuals on the mental and behavioural health spectrum. Seeing the depth and composition of Gonzalez’s work, Kalmbach, a painter himself, understood not only what CVF could provide for this artist, who was hungry for exhibition opportunities, but also what an asset he could be to



CVF. Self-directed, process-driven and wildly prolific, Gonzalez would provide other members with a model of how artists can work, in terms of practice, but also – given the physical ferocity he brought to the act of drawing – in terms of attitude and passion. It takes Gonzalez an average of one and a half to two hours to complete a drawing. The sounds of the bus engines playing in the background “make me go faster,” he says. He completes an average of five drawings (or “posters” as he often refers to them) a day, a prodigious level of output that increases to twelve on a Saturday and a Sunday. He works on one at a time, from start to finish. Asked if he ever abandons a drawing, either leaving it unfinished or discarding it, the answer is an emphatic no, but he adds that he will erase sections of a piece if “it isn’t right”. Coming from a history of playing video games prior to making art, Gonzalez speaks of going to the “next level” when transitioning into different visual styles. After joining CVF, he began segmenting and colouring both interior and exterior solid planes into

Design Man on the Bus with Design Colors on the Bus, 2014, graphite and coloured pencil on paper, 28 x 22 in. / 71 x 56 cm

undulating forms that contribute to the intensity of movement of the picture, then layering multiple vehicles (buses, trains and subways) with the end result of dizzying, untethered vehicles loop-thelooping along rollercoaster-like tracks in a psychedelic amusement park. In works such as Woman Watching Trains Goes by Art Exhibition (2015) and Railroad Land (2018), the trains, released from their usual constraints, twist and curve against the intense blackness of gaping tunnels and the night sky. “When the sunset goes down the colours start to burst out,” says Gonzalez. Controlling the flow from one colour to another allows him to shape motion so that the picture plane explodes with activity. In other works – for example, SEPTA Bus in Center City Philadelphia (2016) – he introduces watercolour with its paler tones to highlight the striking intensity he achieves with coloured pencil and to play with the perspective of the scene. The viewer can feel the physicality and the pressure the artist needs to exert in order to fill his works with this much power and depth.

When he says, “My artwork is louder than words”, Gonzalez may be referring to the vivid palette he uses or implying that he can express himself best through his art. For the observer, it is certainly tempting to draw a corollary between the free-flying vehicles, unencumbered by the laws of physics, and Gonzalez’s own personal experience of freedom and independence as a young man learning to navigate the system of public transportation. In SEPTA Broad Street Line at City Hall (2014), the artist is looking inside a subway station. He breaks up behemoth pieces of concrete and steel into smaller bits that articulate motion. The focal point of the large dark bench looks like a diving board for vaulting into the psychedelic stew below. Concentric half circles pulsate, rainbow-sliced arcs play with one another, creating an illusion of depth that throws the 2D plane into imbalance. His innate mastery of perspective is also evident in more recent work, such as SEPTA Broad Street Line Colors Flying at Erie Station (2019). A Philadelphia subway train hurtles down the corridor



CARLO ZINELLI recto verso The Collection de l’Art Brut showcases the complexity and richness of the Italian master’s double-sided paintings


Carlo Zinelli working in the workshop at the San Giacomo alla Tomba hospital,Verona, 1959, photo: John Phillips, courtesy of the John and Annamaria Phillips Foundation



Untitled (cab-2098 recto), between 1957 and 1958, gouache on paper, 13.8 x 19.7 in. / 35 x 50 cm RAW VISION 104


Untitled (cab-2127 recto), 1962, gouache on paper, 27.6 x 19.7 in. / 70 x 50 cm

The Italian artist Carlo Zinelli (1916–1974), who has also become known simply as “Carlo”, is one of the major historical figures in the field of art brut, along with such others as Aloïse Corbaz and Adolf Wölfli. Works by this Italian creator are found in numerous public and private collections and have been reproduced in books about art brut, often landing on the covers of such works, thanks to their powerful graphic character. Thus, general admirers are familiar with his work, however, his gouaches, which are most commonly seen, generally date to his second creative phase (1961–65), with their motifs repeated four at a time, or from his third phase (1966–69), during which his figures melded with writing. Knowledge of this body of work, which is so rich and dense, still sometimes remains incomplete. Among all the museums in the world, with 99 pieces, which amount to 165 gouaches and collages when their front and back sides are counted as individual works, the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland, has the largest holdings of Carlo’s art. All of the works in its collection were acquired with the assistance of Vittorino Andreoli, Carlo’s attending psychiatrist, who was the first person to ever advocate



for his patient’s artistic accomplishments and who established a privileged personal relationship with him. This doctor played a fundamental role in assembling Carlo’s body of work, making a point of gathering together his most interesting and especially his most representative paintings, and holding them back from any speculative or commercial handling. This group of works spans Carlo’s entire creative period, from 1957 to 1972. Now, in the exhibition “Carlo Zinelli, recto verso”, which is on view at the Collection de l’Art Brut until February 2, 2020, and in its accompanying catalogue, the museum is presenting all of the artist’s gouaches in its holdings, allowing for a comprehensive overview of his oeuvre. Certain features are clearly evident in Carlo’s art, depending on the respective dates on which he created his paintings. His work evolved over time; it developed, notably, with the artist’s growing sense of confidence in his gestures and, from 1966 on, his more assured use of pictorial space. However, it is mainly a sense of unity and coherence that one apprehends in Carlo’s universe. During his initial creative phase, from 1957 to 1959, he developed his formal vocabulary and experimented

Untitled (cab-2127 verso), 1962, gouache on paper, 27.6 x 19.7 in. / 70 x 50 cm

with technique. Many of the subjects that came to characterise his formal language were already present, like human figures and assorted animals. Long-armed characters, men wearing hats, women carrying handbags, dogs, insects, and birds are at times placed horizontally and at other times vertically in his compositions, and the anonymous silhouettes that one will find again and again in most of them already may be seen parading from right to left. During his early years, Carlo would cover a sheet of paper with an abundance of elements without any pre-established order or hierarchy. He did not seem to determine the layouts of such motifs in a preliminary way and he filled in their surrounding areas as he went along, sometimes taking advantage of in-between spaces defined by a shape posing spatial constraints. The narrative dimension that runs through the whole of Carlo’s work, with sometimes complex, even inaccessible autobiographical references, is evident from the very beginning of his art-making. It reveals itself in particular in the iconographic details and the multiple vignettes that do not appear at first glance, when reading of one of his images feels more fragmented. A viewer’s gaze may venture into a

painting in an almost aleatory manner, roam through it at random, and discover very finely drawn scenes, in which Carlo used a brush like a pencil in the mode of a miniaturist. These scenes represent different characters in action, or situations actually lived, or dreamed, or imagined; even if they can be described, most of the time they remain enigmatic. Everything seems to unfold as though one were reading words, except that the phrases these images form remain incomprehensible. Subsequently, Carlo continued to insert little vignettes into more orderly compositions that completely filled his sheets of paper. The confidence and mastery he had achieved after several years of practice effectively led him to understand pictorial space differently – to consider a work in its entirety, that is, and not in a progressive, step-by-step manner, as he had at the beginning of his art-making. Starting in 1960, he first prepared his backgrounds with broad brushstrokes of colour, as if to appropriate the available work surface. Then he would set in place the elements that would become the principal subjects of a picture, which were larger than they had been before. During these years, Carlo began creating



WITHIN THESE WALLS Artist James Castle found all the inspiration he needed in his home; his artwork and that home are now inspiring other artists ALLISON C MEIER

James Castle in the living room of the Eugene Street house, c. 1940s All artworks are soot on found paper, unless otherwise stated Photos courtesy of James Castle Collection and Archive, and artwork © James Castle Collection and Archive, unless otherwise stated

James Castle’s home was his muse. It was the subject and setting for many of the self-taught American artist’s hundreds of drawings that he sketched with stove soot and spit, on scraps of found paper and cardboard. Born with complete hearing loss in 1899, Castle was not proficient in conventional communication, such as speech or writing. From an early age, his art was his way into the world and where he engaged most deeply with everyday life, whether it was sketching the two sides of a doorknob closely viewed from the edge of a door, or the lattice of wood inside a barn. At his longtime residence in Boise, Idaho, he even made his artwork part of the architecture,



stowing it under floorboards, in the rafters and inside the walls. When the City of Boise, Idaho, bought Castle’s house in 2015, it was decided that this context of home was key to its preservation, as was sharing – through public programming – the artist’s dedication to creativity as an ongoing, daily pursuit. At the start of the project, much was unknown about Castle’s life – including how he developed into such a skilled draftsman, and the meaning behind his imagery – and the restoration of the house was an opportunity for discovery. In 2016, a group of University of Idaho students and volunteers undertook an archaeological dig that unearthed his

Untitled (interior with hutch/interior), n.d., 10.5 x 9.5 in. / 27 x 24 cm

homemade artmaking tools, such as a wad of cloth probably used as a paintbrush, a glass lens and drawing sticks. Then in 2017, eleven drawings were discovered in the walls. Long hidden beneath layers of plasterboard added by later owners, one depicts the outside of the house in which it was embedded. Because Castle did not date or title his work and would often hold onto materials like newspapers or magazines for years, it is not clear when individual pieces were completed. Yet there are shared themes and experimentation with material that all contribute to a larger picture of his artistic progression. “Every time we learn something new, we see a new

relationship of one artwork to another”, says Jacqueline Crist, managing partner of the James Castle Collection and Archive, “and you see how interrelated the work is. It’s just a steady stream of his life.” The James Castle Collection and Archive, also located in Boise, maintains the artist’s drawings and related materials, and has gifted 61 pieces by Castle to the City of Boise for display in the house where they were made. Although Castle’s family only moved into the Boise home in 1931, little work survives from his years in their prior Idaho residences in Garden Valley and Star. However, the houses themselves appear in his work, rendered through memory, showing an enduring



“It’s just a steady stream of his life.”. close attention by the artist to his surroundings. From about the age of six or seven, according to his family, Castle spent much of his time drawing. He was the fifth of seven children in a farming family that supported his artistic passion. He spent five years at the Idaho State School for the Deaf and the Blind in Gooding; this was the extent of his formal education and took place at a time when teaching hearingimpaired children focused on lipreading and spoken language rather than the more accessible signing. Instead of expressing himself through traditional language, Castle sketched, collaged and stitched together fragments of cereal boxes, ice-cream packages, envelopes and other household detritus, into a codex of everyday life. He captured the wheelbarrows and ducks around the modest family house in a thenrural part of Boise, and was fascinated with the pattern of the wallpaper and the simple form of a coat or bedroom door. There is a quiet in Castle’s work that elevates the overlooked moments of a home. There is also a relentless imagination and innovativeness, for example, in how he transformed a flattened matchbox



into a canvas, skewed perspectives to take in the full vista from a porch, or filled a stark outdoor landscape with mysterious totem-like structures. His figures, too, are unexpected; sketched, or folded from paper, they have boxy bodies, almost featureless faces and none of the realism of his domestic scenes. Adventurous with his media, Castle augmented the soot he often used with pops of colour from watercolours made from crepe paper, laundry bluing, and store-bought pastels and chalk. He was a fan of kaleidoscopes and carried bits of glass in his pocket in order to constantly change his way of looking. Because of the artist’s unconventional practices, the James Castle House opened in 2018 as an unconventional, historic artist’s home. “You can go to Cézanne’s house in Provence and everything is the way he left it: there's his paintbrush and his furniture, and you go back in time when you walk in there”, Crist says. “And that's not what this house is. They [the City of Boise] brought a new way of looking at artists’ homes and, I think, have created a much more sustainable model for how to think about an artist and what their home meant to them.”

above, left: Untitled (Jim house/trailer), n.d., 10 x 8 in. / 25 x 20 cm above, right: Untitled (Eugene Street house), n.d., 5 x 4 in. / 12.5 x 10 cm opposite page: Untitled, n.d., 7 x 6 in. / 18 x 15 cm

above: Cozy Cottage trailer, c. 1964, Tom Trusky Papers, Special Collections and Archives, Boise State University

From the beginning of the initiative, an artist residency was planned for the site, but incorporating it into the historic space and making the house a public cultural centre was a unique challenge. “One of the things that I am always very concerned with is the balance between site preservation and conservation and site activation and relevancy”, said Rachel Reichert, cultural sites manager with the Boise City Department of Arts and History, “The residency program certainly plays a role in keeping the site active and revisiting the story of James Castle on the site through the lens of each artist.” With its status as a municipal project, the James Castle House is distinct from many historic artists’ homes that are conserved by art museums or operated as nonprofit organisations. Its residency and rotating exhibitions on aspects of Castle’s art are supported by public funding, so programs can be offered free of charge or at a low cost to the public. Not only can artists-in-residence be in the space that Castle was in, but they can access local resources like the James Castle Collection and Archive, further immersing themselves in his work and its connection to Boise.

“We... ask that the artist responds to some element of being there, which could be the architecture, it could be the neighbourhood, it could be a diversity of things. Each artist has drilled into a different part of Castle’s experience”, Reichert says. One resident artist has painted the home’s interiors in close detail, just as Castle did 40 years earlier. Another artist says that she expected to paint the physical spaces, but was instead drawn to the aspects of light and shadow in Castle’s work that reflect the sense of the impermanence of any moment, as well as the character of the surrounding Boise landscape that he tapped into – from the hills to the telephone pole – and interpreted in soot and spit. That many of the artists-in-residence at the house are so inspired and productive may be down to what Reichert describes as the “palpable energy in those spaces” where Castle made his art. The James Castle House is continuing to grow and evolve. Recently, a public art sculpture called Kith & Kin by Boise artist Troy Passey was installed on the house’s lawn, with its column-like shapes responding to the totem-like structures in Castle’s drawings and referencing the text and patterns in his art in their



WILLIAM THOMAS THOMPSON’S UNORTHODOX CONVICTIONS The American painter occupies a strong position in today’s religious and political thinking, and his viewpoints shape his art MICHAEL BONESTEEL

In an age of extremism, the art of William Thomas Thompson (b. 1935) extends above and beyond the merely unconventional. His political and religious beliefs are neither on the extreme right nor the extreme left. While the messages of other apocalyptic artists of a fundamentalist-Christian orientation may appear to be coming from a similar place, none have spelled themselves out as explicitly as those within the texts that appear in Thompson’s paintings, particularly his seven most recently created works.



Thompson, who lives in Greenville, South Carolina, began his career in 1961 as a wholesaler of artificial flowers, built up a million-dollar business in the United States, and then expanded his enterprise to Hong Kong. However, through a series of financial downturns, his business collapsed in the 1980s. As a result, he believes his psychological well-being suffered and led to his developing Guillan-Barré syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder. While attending a Sunday church service in Hawaii, 1989, he recalled, “I saw a

above: The Great Deception of the Church and State, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 15 x 12 ft / 4.6 x 3.7 m previous page: The Toxic Dollar, A Weapon of Mass Destruction, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 15 x 12 ft / 4.6 x 3.7 m All quotes are taken from e-mail interviews conducted by the author between July and October, 2019

vision of the coming of the Lord and the world on fire on July 6, 1989.” Thompson regards his epiphany, he said, “as an unmistakable command to paint what I saw”. Since then, he has produced thousands of paintings. He noted, “I feel spiritually motivated to paint the truth condemning the world system as the spirit enlightens me to the pitfalls laid down by the Antichrist.” Not one to be swept up in the voluptuous materialism of painterly realism, he never attempted to practise a formal technique. Instead, his work offers the raw realism of spontaneous expression – rough images by an artist whose brushstrokes reflect the tremors caused by a neurological condition that causes pain and weakness in his hands, and has paralysed Thompson below the knees. “I do all [of my] painting flat down, either on my table or on the floor”, he explained. My table is 10 by 16 feet long. […] [With] my large canvases, I […] either sit on the table on top of the

canvas to paint or lie down on the canvas to steady my right arm to paint. I never sketch out any art [or] fill in the spaces. [...] I would like to say in all this that I am the servant, not the artist, in terms of spiritual inspiration that I cannot fully explain. Thompson’s resulting images may be less refined than those of Sister Gertrude Morgan (1900–1980), the New Orleans-based painter of biblical-themed pictures, but their composition has greater range and rhythm than the paintings of the Mississippi-based Mary T Smith (1904–1995), two other American self-taught artists who were inspired by Christian themes. Thompson usually makes up for what he lacks in formal technique with dramatic arrangements of figures and other elements within his compositions, as well as with his lavish use of vivid colours. As in the paintings of Hilma af Klint (1862–1944), the writings of the Christian mystic Jacob Böhme (1575–1624) illustrated by Dionysius Andreas Freher



False Flag, Changing Colors of America, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 15 x 12 ft / 4.6 x 3.7 m





A PIECE OF PUBLIC ART What inspired Carrie Reichardt to cover her London house with mosaic tiles? NUALA ERNEST



previous page and above: Carrie Reichardt’s house, Fairlawn Grove, Chiswick, 2019. Vine designs around the windows (above) are based on the DNA double-helix. A Cheshire Cat (previous page, top left) by Tamara Frowlin is part of an Alice in Wonderland theme. Towards the centre is an ‘English Hedonists’ plaque, made by Reichardt’s friend Eugene, to commemorate radicals and alternative figures

Craftivist Carrie Reichardt has been subverting the consumer cycle, and how adverts take up public space. Her house is the centre of the West London-based art collective, The Treatment Rooms, which makes public art. Over 20 years, Reichardt has covered the house with mosaics, and two art cars she decorated, the “Tiki Love Truck” and the “Voodoo Zulu Liberation Taxi”, sit outside. Her house has been featured in Time Out, the Guardian and other publications, including an online article which reveals “30 Hidden Secrets of Carrie Reichardt’s extraordinary mosaic house in Chiswick” and describes the meaning behind many of the designs. In 1998 Reichardt decided, “to mosaic the house, just because I can. I’m sick of the visual pollution.

If companies can pollute my world with something to make me feel bad about myself, I want want to take control of my little house.” Originally, Reichardt wanted to study film-making, but there was no film course at her university, so she took a degree in sculpture before finding a way to tell stories – often based on life – in mosaics. She explained, “All my work at college was very feminist and autobiographical. But I left when I had a nervous breakdown. I really didn’t function. The minute I tried mosaicing I loved it, because it’s a meditative process.” This was the beginning of her attraction to craftivism, a socially radical form of activism through domestic arts. Reichardt initially made community mosaics, but,



THE THREE LAWS OF COLIN McKENZIE The innovative Scottish artist reveals his newest artworks

Since featuring in Raw Vision issue 69 with his abstract, narrative-based painting-sculpture, Existence (2009), Edinburgh-based artist Colin McKenzie has gone on to create two further major works. Using handmade tools and painstaking techniques, which he invented then developed and refined over nearly a decade, McKenzie applies thin layers of acrylic paint and builds them into three-dimensional structures. He applies the paint in alternating colours, so that the individual layers are clearly visible. Gradually, the paint starts to project up, so that it appears to be floating above the board on which the artist works. Now, McKenzie has written to Raw Vision describing the narratives of his two latest works and the new painting methods he has used for them, which he calls the “Three Laws”: “Existence, Maverick DNA and Attraction are three paintings that together make a set called ‘Three Laws’. They are an introduction to a new painting discovery of my own called ‘three-dimensional acrylic painting’ and, between them, they show the three basic methods that I use: ‘3D square designing’, ‘3D box designing’ and ‘3D cube designing’.” Over the following pages, McKenzie describes his methods in his own words, alongside details of his works to demonstrate those methods.

All photos by Michael Melville, unless otherwise stated top: detail of Attraction, showing wooden dowling stanchions beneath bottom, left: detail of Existence, showing “layered” paint, photo: Maggie Jones Maizels bottom, right: detail of Maverick DNA, showing “3D walling”





The first law “The 3D square designing method is the most basic method of three-dimensional painting. It is used on a hard surface – a board made from chipboard or ply board – and is best described as ‘layering’, as I add paint layer by layer, wet paint onto dry paint, to create a solid 3D paint design. Examples of 3D square designing can be seen in my earlier piece Existence: ‘the sun’ (top left corner), most of the ‘sunflower vortex black hole’ and all the background ‘planets’. 3D square painting method can be restricting in that the shape and size of the previous layer of paint can be maintained or decreased with the following layer of paint but it cannot be increased. In addition, layering paint in this way puts stress on the surface of the painting, leading to damage over time. “Existence tells the story of life until death, from the beginning until the end. Each element represents a different part of the story, for example the sunflower vortex represents the big bang theory of when existence began, while the small silver planet with its own frame and umbilical cord was inspired by a friend’s pregnancy. The work was painted as a celebration of life, and the birth of ‘three-dimensional acrylic painting.’”



top: Existence, 2009, acrylic paint on board, 22 x 19 in. / 56 x 48 cm, maximum depth 2.5 in. / 6.5 cm above: detail of Existence, showing “3D box” with ”walling”, photos: Maggie Jones Maizels

above: Maverick DNA, 2014, acrylic paint on board, 16 x 20 in. / 41 x 51 cm, maximum depth 2 in. / 5 cm above, left: The artist’s “3D cube master’s tool” and “3D box learning tool” with arrowhead-shaped tip

The second law “Maverick DNA shows a more advanced method of 3D painting called 3D box designing. Designs also begin on a hard surface but – while 3D square designing consists of solid paint – in 3D box designing, I paint only the surface or ‘skin’ of a 3D design, leaving the interior hollow and the final painting lightweight. To do this, I use a technique called ‘3D walling’. Rather than a traditional paint brush, which leaves a flat stroke, I use my own 3D painting tools which deliver a tubular stroke. The surface of a stroke develops a dry ‘membrane’ of paint and, because only the paint on a 3D painting tool connects with the surface being painted, when a second tubular stroke is applied to the first, the membrane of dry paint remains untorn. Each 3D paint stroke sits on the membrane of the previous one. The 3D walling technique allows the design to be developed in all directions. In Maverick DNA and

Attraction, I used alternating colours so that the walling can be seen easily. “Maverick DNA gains its title from the notion that a previously inactive ‘painting DNA gene’ has ‘switched on’ and become active, creating a new branch of painting called ‘3D painting’. The painting is an abstract 2D interpretation painted in 3D: A young woman has an idea (‘3D painting’ ) which in the artwork appears above her head. Small 3D shapes float around the outer centre of the painting, representing pockets of ‘thinking energy’ moving through her mind. At the centre, a band of those ‘energy shapes’ have joined up, representing the sphere within her mind where visual thoughts are created. Within this sphere can be seen a powerful lattice-work of colourful ‘electrical current’ transforming her thought into vision. Her thought ‘3D painting’ becomes vision, ‘a three-dimensionally painted flower’.”



A WHOLE NEW WORLD A pioneering studio in China brings art, community and a Daoist spirit to 23 patients – Raw Vision talks to its founder Haiping Guo

above: Jie Li, A Child in Adventure, 2016, gouache on paper, 21 x 15 in. / 53 x 38 cm opposite: Baogui Chen, God is in the Heart, 2016, marker pen on paper, 15 x 21 in. / 38 x 54 cm

When Chinese contemporary artist, Haiping Guo was eight, his older brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and went to live in a psychiatric hospital. Perhaps it was this early, personal experience of mental illness that gave Guo – who is a curator as well as an artist (self-taught) – his passionate interest in the relationship between psychology and art. In 2006, he started the Nanjing Outsider Art Studio (NOAS), a pioneering, temporary program for resident patients of the Nanjing Zutangshan Psychiatric Hospital. Until then, neither Guo nor the Chinese public were aware of outsider art, nor of the way that spontaneous creativity can reveal the thinking and truth of psychiatric patients who have had no formal art training. A whole new world suddenly opened up to Guo. Inspired and fascinated, he devoted himself to the exploration and promotion of art created by psychiatric patients and, in 2010, set up a permanent, stand-alone NOAS studio. From Monday to Friday, 23 local artists who suffer, or have suffered, with mental illness, go to Guo’s studio



to create freely, without interference. They are provided with a painting room and art materials at no cost. They are not treated like patients, although Guo and his team provide any support or supervision that the artists may need while they are there, and arrange activities and exhibitions for them. A legal agreement signed by their guardians means that the artists receive 30 per cent from the sale of their work, while the remaining money goes towards the upkeep and running of the studios. The rest of the funding for the studio comes from government subsidy. From time to time, the studio opens its doors to patients, present or former, from all over China rather than just the Nanjing area. Attendees must follow the studio’s simple rules – they must love art and must not disrupt others. People of different mental states are encouraged to treat one another with respect, as equals, and to trust, forgive and cooperate. There is no pressure to communicate if they do not want to. The ethos of the studio echoes that of Daoism,



“Outsider art is the reflection of individuals’ spiritual freedom.” – Haiping Guo above: founder Haiping Guo in the Nanjing Outsider Art Studio in 2017, photo: Limo Zhang opposite: Yulong Qiao, Grandpa, 2018, marker pen on paper, 7 x 8 in. / 17 x 21 cm

although not in any deliberate, formal or prescriptive way. It can be discerned in the underlying attitudes in the place. Guo had always believed that, among the existing cultural systems in China, it was only Daoism that worshipped the natural qualities of human beings, but he had also felt that Daoism was overly entrenched in ancient tradition and too far removed from real life. However, once he encountered outsider art, his view changed – he found a synergy between outsider art and Daoism. He says that the Daoist culture recognises and values the cultural significance of outsider art, and that outsider art brings Daoist culture to life, making it relevant and fresh. He explains: “Outsider art is the reflection of individuals’ spiritual freedom as well as people’s natural will. It brings back the right and dignity to live for spiritual worlds different from that of others. It tells us the answer of what we are, where we come from and where we are going”. In 2018, NOAS celebrated its Daoist influences when it held an exhibition of its members works, borrowing an ancient Daoist motto “Nothing gives birth to being” for its title. According to Guo, before joining the studio, many of the patients had isolated themselves and were unwilling to interact with others. Now, he says, they have learned how to open up and work alongside other people who share their love of art and creating. A positive focus gives them hope and confidence, and with the assistance of hospitals and their families, their spiritual lives are enriched and develop. Guo says that improvements in the mental wellbeing of the 23 artists

are acknowledged by their family, the community and the government. Feedback from the artists themselves is also positive. Yulong Qiao says, “I was a patient before but now I am an artist”. Born in 2000, Qiao has cerebral palsy that affects the left side of his brain. The first time he picked up a paintbrush at the studio, his sensitivity to, and love of, colour became obvious. Listening to fastpaced music as he worked, he would sketch out the rhythm and melody and then paint it in vibrant, passionate tones. Without the interference of the left side of his brain with its linear, analytical functions, Qiao’s paintings are simple and frank, and closely linked to his emotions. Another artist, Jie Li, is a single mother with bipolar disorder. She used to work for an animation company. Now she takes care of her son and so can only attend NOAS two and half days a week but says it helps: “I feel at ease and slowly recover with outsider art“. Using bright colours, she paints fragments of the memories she has written down in a notebook. Min Yang also attends the studio. He was working as a chef when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He creates his images with no planning, spontaneously sketching out the outline of his trademark fantastical animals which he then fills with short, parallel lines. Symmetrical, with extending tentacles, his creatures seem familiar at first glance but, on closer inspection, it is clear that they do not belong to our world. For Yang, making art is a way to release his excess energy and, at the same time, it gives him comfort: “My lonely soul



JOE COLEMAN AND THE SHADOW SELF Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York October 25 – December 7, 2019 This survey of the American, New York-based artist Joe Coleman’s acrylic-on-wood-panel or mixed-media works served as a retrospective look at his production of the past 25 years. Born in 1955 and brought up in Connecticut in a Roman Catholic family, Coleman began drawing as a child and became familiar with his religion’s theology and saints. Influenced by underground comics and fascinated by the endless parade of eccentrics and peculiar events that litter the narrative of American history and pop culture, he developed biographical and autobiographical paintings that depict individual subjects but amplify them in densely packed compositions filled with meticulously rendered, supporting vignettes. These visual sidebars describe people, events, or ideas related to a painting’s main subject, illuminating his or her personality or historical significance. Coleman’s storehouse of pop-cultural and other references is diverse in its embrace of the unlikely and the bizarre. Tenebrae for Gesualdo (2004) depicts in painstaking detail – Coleman often uses a single-hair brush – the seventeenth-

century composer Carlo Gesualdo, who famously killed his wife and her lover, and then displayed their corpses. The painting offers a list of the instruments for which Gesualdo wrote, a discouraging pronouncement about human nature, pictures of the lovers alive (and sexually aroused), and snippets of the composer’s scores. The 1960s singer Tom Jones turns up in Coleman’s large portrait of his wife and muse, Whitney Ward (A Doorway to Whitney, 2015), as do assorted cartoon characters, the actor Ernest Borgnine, a pair of Siamese twins, tiki statues from a Polynesianstyle restaurant, and Frankenstein in a Santa Claus cap. In As You Look Into the Eye of the Cyclops, So the Eye of the Cyclops Looks Into You (2003), a painting mounted in a replica of an old television-set cabinet, the actress Joan Collins, the American cult leader David Koresh and the Islamic terrorist Osama bin Laden buck up against TV game-show hosts and the country-music star Dolly Parton. Like Herman Melville’s MobyDick, that grand dissertation on whale-hunting and life at sea, Coleman’s art is exhaustive, encyclopedic, and obsessive. It captures the spirit of a confluence of the weird and the wondrous with a palpable sense of subversive delight. Edward M. Gómez RAW VISION 104



CARLO ZINELLI, RECTO VERSO Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland September 19, 2019 – February 2, 2020 For their inventive use of colour and form; their intriguing, stylised motifs; and the deeply personal, often impenetrable significance of their complex compositions, the gouache-on-paper paintings of Carlo Zinelli (1916–1974) long ago earned this Italian autodidact, who is also known simply as “Carlo”, a special place in the canon of art brut’s definitive créateurs. With this substantive exhibition, this leading museum in its field is displaying all of its Zinelli treasures. Organised by staff curator Anic Zanzi, “Carlo Zinelli, recto verso” showcases those in which the artist used both sides of each sheet of paper that served as a support surface. The Collection de l’Art Brut’s holdings of Zinelli’s works are the largest of any collection anywhere in the world. This exhibition presents 98 pieces, most of which bear images on both their front (recto) and back (verso) sides. In a few instances, instead of painted motifs, one side of each of several seemingly experimental pieces is covered with collaged, repurposed cigarette packets to create gridlike compositions. They derive their aesthetic energy from the 80



graphics of those printed wrappers. Specially designed display racks allow visitors to closely inspect each side of each featured artwork; paintings are hung together in clusters so that the concentration of each grouping echoes the densely packed character of many of Zinelli’s compositions. Viewers may closely examine these cleverly mounted works and, figuratively speaking, step right into their pictorial space. Zanzi has arranged the paintings on view in a chronological manner that allows the evolution of Zinelli’s art through several discernible phases to come into focus. In his earliest works, the artist used primary- and secondary-colour palettes and began filling his pictures with multiple motifs. Later, he extracted and enlarged some of those recurring elements, making them the central subjects of certain compositions. In time, bold colour gave way to the use of black alone, against white backgrounds, along with the appearance of unintelligible handwriting that functions as a strong graphic element within configurations of silhouetted human and animal forms, bicycles, and other vehicles and objects. Along with its handsome catalogue, this illuminating exhibition, which introduces fresh research about Zinelli’s life and art, calls sharp attention to the sophistication and purposefulness of his creative approach. Edward M. Gómez

Profile for Raw Vision

Raw Vision 104  

International journal of outsider art, folk art, visionary art and art brut.

Raw Vision 104  

International journal of outsider art, folk art, visionary art and art brut.