RAWVISION81 SPRING 2014
25 YEARS OF OUTSIDER ART
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Michael Bonesteel, Jenifer P. Borum, Roger Cardinal, Ted Degener, Edward Madrid Gomez, Jo Farb Hernandez, Tom Patterson, Charles Russell
GAUDÍ OF THE EAST SIDE
ADVERTISING MANAGER Charlie Payne tel 717 666 3200 fax 717 689 4566 cell 717 572 2175 firstname.lastname@example.org
KRÜSI / THEO
GALLERY & MUSEUM GUIDE
EDITOR John Maizels DIRECTORS Henry Boxer, Robert Greenberg, Audrey Heckler, Rebecca Hoffberger, Phyllis Kind, Frank Maresca, Richard Rosenthal, Bob Roth ART EDITOR Maggie Jones Maizels FEATURES EDITOR Nuala Ernest EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Natasha Jaeger ACCOUNTS MANAGER Judith Edwards SUBSCRIPTIONS MANAGER Suzy Daniels US ASSISTANT Ari Huff FRENCH EDITOR Laurent Danchin
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Raw Vision (ISSN 0955-1182) March 2014 is published quarterly (March, June, September, December) by Raw Vision Ltd, PO Box 44, Watford WD25, 8LN, UK and distributed in the USA by Mail Right Int., 1637 Stelton Road 84, Piscataway, NJ 08854. Periodical Postage Paid at Piscataway, NJ, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster send address corrections to Raw Vision c/o Mail Right International Inc., 1637 Stelton Road 84, Piscataway, NJ 08854. USA subscription office: 119 72nd Street, #414, New York, NY 10023. (Standard envelopes only).
A chronology of outsider art events.
Outsider events and exhibitions around the world.
Gun sculptures and weaponry of the celebrated Art Brut artist.
The African-American self-taught artist’s intricate graphic universe.
The visionary and very personal anatomy of a striking Czech artist.
The obsessive mosaic creations of Jim Power in New York City.
Interviews regarding two celebrated European artists.
Late paintings by the English painter of celestial visions.
A new museum in Portugal devoted to Art Brut.
The powerful portraits of the self-taught artist from Liberia.
Exhibitions, events and books.
COVER: Joachim Gironella, Untitled, 1960, cork
AMERICAN FOLK ART MUSEUM VISIONARY AWARD
WORLD’S BEST ART MAGAZINE
UTNE INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD
MEDAILLE DE LA VILLE DE PARIS
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LA GALERIE DES NANAS
London’s V&A Museum will publish the only surviving full inventory of “Entartete Kunst” (Degenerate Art) online. e Nazi regime kept records of the 16,558 works of art that were later sold, loaned or destroyed. As well as celebrated names such as Picasso and Van Gogh, the list included many of the artists shown in Hans Prinzhorn’s Artistry of the Insane. Most of these artists, as mental patients, were “euthanised” by oﬃcials.
April 26, 2014 An auction of outsider artworks from Barrington Farm takes place on April 26.
HITLER’S DEGENERATE ART
May – December, 2014 La Galerie Des Nanas celebrates the work of over 20 female artists, mostly selftaught. Includes three months of residency by Christine Béglet, Anne Grgich and Marion Hanna-Oster.
BRITAIN, CANADA, FRANCE
BARRINGTON FARM Walcott, Norfolk NR12 0PF, UK www.roarart.com
LA GALERE DES NANAS 85 Daniel-Johnson, CP 669 Danville (Quebec) J0A 1A0, CANADA http://galeriedesnanas.ca
until July 5, 2014 e festival celebrating the work of art therapy pioneer Edward Adamson continues at various venues in London. www.slam.nhs.uk
RAW VISION AT HSP until August 22, 2014 Raw Vision 25 years continues its comprehensive outsider art exhibition with over 400 works by 81 artists from around the world.
OUTSIDE IN until April 27, 2014 In Intuitive Folk, Outside In showcases the work of Japanese artists Masao Obata and Shinichi Sawada alongside British artists Chaz Waldren and Jason Pape. en from April 29 – June 1, an exhibition of work by Outside In: National 2012 Award Winner Manuel Lanca Bonifacio will be in the Studio at Pallant House Gallery. is year also marks the start of a three year plan for Outside In who are requesting that those interested in working in partnership with the organisation let them know.
HALLE SAINT PIERRE Rue Ronsard 75018 Paris, FRANCE www.hallesaintpierre.com
NAUFRAGÉS DU TEMPS
PALLANT HOUSE GALLERY 9 North Pallant, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1TJ, UK www.outsidein.org.uk 10
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manuel lanca bonifacio
April 18 – May 30, 2014 Paintings by Zimbabwean artist Sanélé Dlomo will be shown at Les Naufragés du Temps, followed by Bruce Clarke from June 7 – July 19.
LES NAUFRAGÉS DU TEMPS 4 bis rue Saint Thomas 35400 Saint-Malo, FRANCE www.lesnaufragesdutemps.fr
OUTSIDER ART FILM FESTIVAL IN PARIS
TWO NEW GALLERIES OPEN New gallery Galerie Moutt’art is curated by self-taught artist MA Moutte. Aigua de Rocha - Art et la Matiere is run by an association of artists, with permanent exhibits including Jean-Louis Manuel paintings and a life-size scrap metal Samurai by Gilles Marion. Assemblage art by Tracey “Picapica” is shown in May.
nek chand, photo: philippe lespinasse
April 26 – 27, 2014 Part of the Raw Vision 25 years exhibition at Halle Saint Pierre and in partnership with the Festival de l’Imaginaire, House of World Cultures, Univers Imaginaires de gens ordinaires (“Imaginary World of Ordinary People”) is a two day film festival. 25 films on contemporary folk art, Art Brut and environments created by selftaught artists are presented. Entry is free but reservation by telephone is recommended.
GALERIE MOUTT'ART 25 Rue de la Treille, 63000 Clermont Ferrand, FRANCE www.galerie-art-singulier.com HOUSE OF WORLD CULTURES 101 Bd Raspail, 75006 Paris, FRANCE tel: +33 (0)1 42 58 72 89
AIGUA DE ROCHA-ART ET LA MATIERE 6, Rue de L'Eglise, 19200 Ussel, FRANCE
May 15 – 16, 2014 is year’s EOA conference and general assembly will take place at Halle Saint Pierre, Paris. “Curating Outsider Art” will explore ways to mediate between artists and curators. Speakers include Martine Lusardi, Pierre Muylle, omas Röske and Barbara Safarova. Excursions to exhibitions and studios will take place May 17 – 18.
April 11 – June 8, 2014 At Création Franche from April 11 – June 8, two parallel exhibitions will feature works by Marie Hénocq and Anne Grgich. Currently on show until March 30 are two solo exhibitions of works by Yves Fleuri and Peter Albasser.
March 26 – 30, 2014 MYSTERES, an exhibition on art therapy, will take place in Toulouse in March. HÔTEL-DIEU SAINT JACQUES, 2, rue viguerie TSA 80035, 31059 Toulouse Cedex 9, FRANCE
March 4 – 29, 2014 My biblio.com is a retrospective of some of Geneviève Seillé’s books from the last 20 years.
HALLE SAINT PIERRE 2 rue Ronsard 75018 Paris, FRANCE www.outsiderartassociation.eu
AMPHITHÉÂTRE MOREL 1, rue Cabanis 75014 Paris, FRANCE centre-etude-expression.com 12
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April 3, 2014 “Séraphine de Senlis, de la peinture à l’écrit” takes place at Amphithéâtre Morel. At the same venue, “La danse et la psychothérapie” on June 5.
SÉRAPHINE DE SENLIS
MUSÉE DE LA CRÉATION FRANCHE 58, av. du Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny, 33130 Begles, FRANCE www.musee-creationfranche.com
MÉDIATHÈQUE GASTON MASSAT St Girons, Ariege, FRANCE
MR I’S GLORIOUS AQUATIC BATHROOM Mr. Imagination's Glorious Aquatic Bathroom in Bethlehem PA needs documentation and preservation. Created in the grand tradition of funky artistic restrooms, Mr. I completed this masterpiece of embedded concrete in the mid-2000s at a recycled furniture/art object store close to the Lehigh University campus. e building is now up for sale and there is no guarantee as to what may happen to the building or the bathroom. e owner of the building (Jon Clark, who commissioned the bathroom from Mr. I) is most willing to facilitate any eﬀort to document and save the bathroom. Anyone wishing further information can contact Jon Clark via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Norman Girardot at email@example.com.
until May 25, 2014 Facework: American Ceramic Vessels from the South and the North features expressive vessels with distinctive faces.
anon, c. 1860
THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036 lacma.org
March 27 – April 26, 2014 Cavin-Morris Gallery’s new group show Praisesongs – New Sculptures, New Artists, includes works by Anna Zemánková.
May 3 – August 17, 2014 e Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Sam Doyle: e Mind’s Eye - Works from the Gordon W. Bailey Collection. e portraits selected for this exhibition are testaments to Doyle’s commitment to honour his culture.
CAVIN-MORRIS GALLERY 210 Eleventh Ave, Suite 201 New York, NY 10001 www.cavinmorris.com
LEHIGH UNIVERSITY ART GALLERIES, ZOELLNER ARTS CENTER Lehigh University, Asa Packer Campus, 420 East Packer Avenue, Bethlehem PA 18015. www.luag.org
OUTSIDER ART FAIR, NEW YORK May 8 – 11, 2014 is year’s Outsider Art Fair features 42 exhibitors, including Andrew Edlin Gallery, Ames Gallery, Galerie Christian Berst, Ricco/Maresca Gallery, Rizomi Art Brut and Henry Boxer Gallery. Swiss curator Daniel Baumann and San Francisco based artist Aram Muksian’s curatorial endeavour, Baumann + Muksian, will premier the work of Californian researcher in metaphysics John Urho Kemp. Hundreds of sheets with Kemp's cosmic and philosophical speculations will be shown for the first time. Superimposed over wallpaper by British artist Sarah Lucas, they will be paired with works by Mexican artist Dr. Lakra and Ohio based artist Lewis Smith.
April 11 – May 31, 2014 Aero Dynamisms is the solo debut of Ian Schneller, who will create a sculptural and sonic exhibition. Also on show are paintings by Anthony Adcock. PACKER SCHOPF GALLERY 942 West Lake Street Chicago, IL 60607 www.packergallery.com
CENTER 548 548 West 22nd Street, New York 10011 outsiderartfair.com RAW VISION 81
CREATING TO SET TIME RIGHT André Robillard is the last living creator whose works were included in Jean Dubuffet’s original collection of Art Brut By OANA AMăRICăI
n many ways André Robillard seems childlike or naïve, but it would be wrong to assume he lacked intelligence. He is smart and headstrong, ironic and decidedly eccentric, and his conversation reflects this. He will talk about whatever he feels like in that moment; he will answer one question in four, and only if it is not too serious or painful; and, if you are lucky, he might show you his many treasures that are piled up in the three small rooms of his home on the grounds of the Georges Daumezon psychiatric facility in Fleury-les-Aubrais, near Orleans, France. As befits an artist’s home, Robillard’s walls are covered with huge posters of Art Brut exhibitions held at the Musée de la Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne or at the LAM in Lille. ese include works by August Walla, Aloïse and Adolf Wölfli, along with productions by patients from La Tinaia, Italy. Overlapping the posters are smaller pages from old calendars that are illustrated with animals, mostly dogs and birds, or pictures of Father Pierre—a priest of whom the French are very fond—and football players. Robillard is almost 82 years old and has been at the facility for most of his life. When we first met, the loneliness that emanated from him, despite his jovial smile and light conversation, was almost too much to bear. Robillard speaks about his destiny as though he were the luckiest man on Earth. “C’est incroyable, non?!” he asks rhetorically when speaking about the turn that his life took decades ago, from psychiatric patient to worldfamous artist, like Picasso or Auguste Forestier, his favourites. He did not set out with the idea that he was an artist. Rather, he acquired it because for the past 40 years people have been telling him that he is, and not because his creative impulses have in any way incorporated a selfview of “artist.” He still finds the concept unbelievable and absurd. And the absurdity of it all holds the key to understanding his art, as enigmatic as it is popular. Each drawing and assemblage is a door that opens to the same lost age—his childhood—not a happy one, but one where everything was still possible. It was the time before life was taken away, before the absurd came to pass,
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before he found himself locked up among lunatics and the criminally insane. He endured that trauma with the added feeling of having suﬀered an injustice, a feeling that still surfaces so many decades later in the way that he insists that “I was not dangerous or anything, I wouldn’t harm anyone.” Robillard does not quite know what his official diagnosis was. All he knows is that his father had him committed when he was in his late teens. The doctor prescribed him a treatment “to calm him down.” “I was a little agitated. But I was not dangerous or anything, I would just break a few chairs; I didn’t hurt anyone. I was young. A runaway with anger problems, they said…” In the late 1940s, if your father delivered you to the psychiatric ward asking that you be committed, being “a runaway with anger problems” could have been reason enough. Today, such a youth would more likely be considered a troubled teen in need of counselling and a good social worker. Especially when the parent who has them committed is a violent and pathologically jealous man who beats his wife and chases her away repeatedly, forcing her to sleep in the forest, and who once even shot at her with his forest-guard rifle within view of their two young children. It might seem impudent or indelicate to insist on such details, but it is important because these details contain the key to understanding his most present and enduring motif: the rifle. “This is a rifle that kills misery”, Robillard told me on our first encounter, when he handed me one of his works. “Don’t be afraid, it is not real. It can’t harm you. But my father had a real one, with a full cartridge belt and all.” After his parents’ divorce, Robillard's mother took custody of his sister, Christiane, while his father took custody of Robillard, as was somewhat customary then. Robillard then found himself alone with a fearsome father, deprived of the comforting presence of his mother and the complicity of his sister. Unsurprisingly, he was not a model
Andre Robillard with his work, 2013, photo: Frédéric Lux
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TIME TRAVELLER SEEKS PARADISE Johnny Culver charts an intricate graphic universe By TOM PATTERSON
girlfriend who dumped him. The longer he kept drawing, isionary perception favours a prepared mind, the better he felt—temporarily freed from day-to-day and nothing seems to prepare the mind like concerns. He kept the cardboard and eventually filled its personal suffering. If it’s intense enough, it can surface with geometric forms in a combination of red, spontaneously alter consciousness, opening a sensitive blue and black ink. Meanwhile, he began drawing on individual to previously unknown realms of experience. other surfaces, and soon found himself working on Indigenous cultures long ago developed rituals and visual several compositions at a time, setting off the intensive forms to help stimulate such visionary mind states. The art-making practice he still contemporary West has no pursues with high energy equivalent to shamanic Components Culver identifies and seemingly boundless initiation rites or related art include energy crystals, force fields enthusiasm. At 53, he has forms, leaving the whole been at it for three decades realm of visionary and ‘worlds inside of worlds.’ without any apparent loss of perception to chance. momentum. The resultant Modern Westerners paintings, painted objects and intricately structured continue to undergo spontaneous visionary experiences, drawings are undeniably stunning. Until a few years ago but few know what to do with them. Even in our it was a lonely, isolated pursuit. supposedly secular-rationalist society, however, such Born in 1960, Culver and his twin brother Donny experiences can sometimes find spontaneous expression spent their early childhood with their mother, and undergo systematic elaboration. We have repeatedly grandmother and three younger siblings on a plantation seen it occur with self-taught, visionary artists— near Sparta. When the twins were seven years old the individuals with prepared minds and strong creative family moved into town, where their mother worked as a inclinations. housekeeper. Around this time Culver developed Blount’s Last year I made several trips to see a dedicated disease, symptomised by bowed legs and associated with exponent of this phenomenon, Johnny Culver, whose short stature and early walking. A doctor outfitted him intricate drawings have recently drawn attention in the with leg braces that he wore until he was 13. After art world. After some regional exposure, his work was attending public school through the 11th grade, he well-received in New York when several of his drawings entered a rehabilitation training centre for handicapped were in the American Folk Art Museum’s group adults in nearby Milledgeville. He spent one year there exhibition “Approaching Abstraction.” (1) learning to repair automobiles, then he transferred to a Culver was born and raised in Sparta, Georgia, where related institution in Augusta, Georgia, for training as a he continues to live, and where African Americans like commercial chef. Officials at the Augusta facility himself make up a majority of the small population (about 1,400 total). When he started drawing in 1980 he was 20 and employed at a fishing supply shop, where he pumped gasoline and handled clean-up duties. Having all photos courtesy of Fred Scruton returned to Sparta after a year on his own in Atlanta, he above: was mired in a deep depression brought on by a failed Johnny Culver at work in his home, 2012 romance. One day he picked up a piece of cardboard
from a corner of the shop and started drawing on it. Soon he was so immersed in the process that he temporarily forgot about everything else, including the 28
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below: Voyager #4, ink on paper, 2008, 23 x 29.13 ins., 58.4 x 74 cm
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ANATOMY LESSON Lubos Plný takes and subverts the histories of science and art, illuminating his interior world through homage, collage, act and photograph By BARBARA SAFAROVA
photographs of anatomical waxworks from the La Specola t first sight, it is the word “anatomy” (according to museum in Florence (1), whose expressions evoke the dictionary, the study, by dissection and other suffering and torture. These coloured waxes restore the means, of the structure and form of living details of human anatomy with obsessive realism, organisms and the relationship between their different troubling for artists trained in the canons of classical organs) that best characterises the work of the Czech artist beauty. Plný delights in these images, although he Lubos Plný. By the age of five he was drawing sometimes mixes them with photographs from the other morphological and anatomical details, and he loved end of the spectrum: a photograph of the gentle face of a dissecting dead animals. His fascination for the body mediaeval Madonna or a Russian model cut out of a subsequently led him to attend autopsies and become a fashion magazine. What is the artist trying to demonstrate qualified grave digger. However, Plný does much more through this juxtaposition of images of ideal or tortured than represent anatomical details of the human body. His women and drawings of body parts or highly detailed works comprise heterogeneous elements from newspapers, representations of the fibre fashion magazines, atlases and and visceral structure? Is he books on anatomy that he Plný tells us about the not telling us something sticks on and reworks, closeness of beauty and death. about the closeness of beauty covering with successive and death; or, rather, that layers of acrylic or Indian ink. there can be no beauty without cruelty? At the heart of these assemblages, faces of fashion models Plný’s collages are based on montage, that is, the are transformed into masks, the notion of feminine and images, by the fact of being created in different historical masculine disintegrates and the frontier between the periods and combined together in one work, suggest human and the animal becomes blurred also. heterogeneous temporalities. In Plný’s compositions we Plný is certainly not the first to want to explore the find different framing effects, such as the enlargement of a inside of the human anatomy. It is doubtless the great detail—the torso, head for some figures—but there is also “anatomist painter” Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) best sequential narrative montage, chronological structuring of represents the convergence of art and scientific interest in what might be thought of as a kind of “private diary” of human anatomy. His works demonstrate that, in order to the artist. Because from one work to another Plný’s achieve this project, he proceeded section by section, slice collages relate and refer to each other and recount in detail by slice, stage by stage, taking advantage of his architectural knowledge and introducing the notion of the passage of significant events from his private life: the thickness by the use of perspective. Like his illustrious birth of his son, the death of his parents, an operation, predecessor, Plný also uses sections—frontal projection or hospitalisation after a dog bite, and so on. elevation, lateral projection—but, unlike da Vinci, he Although Plný’s oeuvre is dependent on the discovery prefers to represent them and superimpose them in the of radiographs, it needs to be situated in a context that is same two-dimensional drawing, one on top of the other. much more complex than just the revelation of the human He thereby creates a different kind of thickness, a kind of body through transparency. More generally speaking his “skin” that renders any immediate interpretation virtually approach might be described as a sort of self-endoscopy: impossible and generates new secrets, replacing those that forcing oneself to see what remains hidden until one’s have just been unveiled by the dissection; the body thus death. Clearly this approach is inspired by virtual finds its uncanniness. In Plný’s oeuvre, sections are made up of Untitled, 2009 heterogeneous elements interlocked into the collage. These ink, collage, acrylic and print on paper are sometimes images from nineteenth-century atlases or 33.1 x 23.3 ins., 84 x 59 cm
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GAUDÍ OF THE EAST VILLAGE
For over 25 years Jim Power has been doggedly embellishing part of New York city with intricate mosaics By BETH AVIV
im Power, a formerly homeless Vietnam vet, has dedicated his life to turning the East Village into “the most beautiful square footage in the world.” Much of that effort—including mosaics he painstakingly set on 70 public light poles—was torn down in the 1990s by the Giuliani administration in an effort to rid New York of socalled graffiti. Since then, he has decorated 40 new poles—and now, with the renovation of Astor Place, some of those poles are coming down. National Geographic’s Walking New York lists Power’s Mosaic Trail as the starting place for a tour of the East Village: Power is proud of that. He is also proud of the oﬃcial proclamation from Mayor Bloomberg, commending him for beautifying the city with distinctive, artful mosaics. Since falls from steelgirders many years ago, Power has trouble walking. Nonetheless, he and Jessie Jane, his 13-year-old labrador mix, accompany me through his neighbourhood. With his long, yellow-white hair tied in a ponytail under a ragged baseball cap stitched with “First Cavalry Division,” he points his mosaic-studded cane to sparkling gems sunk in concrete grout. One of his earliest mosaics was constructed in an abandoned East Village building. Stuck in the massive concrete panel are Mayan masks and flowered glass globes—left over from a copper
railing Power repaired in the Rainbow Room. There are broken columns and a mug cracked through the words, “With Justice for All”—Power’s ironic indictment of the drug and crime riddled society he saw crumbling around him when he made his “We the People, 1787–1987” panel. That panel is now mounted in front of the Sushi Lounge on the corner of St Marks and Avenue A. It is, Power says, “the longest lasting piece of guerilla art in history of New York City.” Power was born in Waterford, Ireland, “where the crystal is made.” When he was 13, his family moved to New York. He claims with pride that though he has never read a book, his IQ is 147. After serving in Vietnam, Power joined the carpenter’s union and made music, lived in Malibu and then Woodstock. He played guitar with David Bowie and Jimmy Hendrix and used his fingers “like a piano player”—until a circular saw cut off the tip of his ring finger. Then, he says, he just cancelled music out of his mind. “Somehow, I thought I’d become immortal by nature of the fact that my work would become legendary, that there was a higher calling.” And that, according to Power, was turning the city into “outdoor palace.” Power moved to the East Village in the early 1980s, lived in abandoned RAW VISION 81
THEO–KRÜSI Two friends and supporters of two celebrated European outsider artists share their stories and thoughts in a conversation held on January 22, 2012. By HANS FISCHER and ROBERT KUEPPERS
Robert Kueppers (RK): Mr Fischer, please introduce yourself to me! Hans Fischer (HF): I am Hans Fischer. I was working in a flower wholesalers in St Gallen with my brother, and I had this open-fronted store. There we had customers who were florists, and other customers such as Hans Krüsi. RK: My name is Robert Kueppers. I am 49 years old and assistant manager of a big film production company in Munich. Back when I got to know Theo, I had just graduated from high school and I was finishing an internship in the nursing home where Theo lived. It was there, in that nursing home, that I met Theo. When and how did you first hear about Hans Krüsi? How did you become acquainted with Hans Krüsi? HF: Krüsi always came to us in the morning to buy flowers. He established himself as a flower seller. He mainly sold in the Bahnhofstrasse in Zürich, and what he did not sell there he sold on his way home on the St. Gallen train, in a restaurant or on the street in St. Gallen. His favourite flowers were rhododendrons and daffodils that he picked himself. Roses were his main supply and he bought them in Zürich or at our shop in St Gallen. RK: How did you hear about the art of Hans Krüsi? HF: He would come to us in the store in the morning, between 8:00 to 9:00. He had plenty of time because he took the train to Zürich at noon. He spent three hours with us, doing business then drinking coffee and eating Kipferl [sweet pastries, similar to croissants]. We could not take care of what was going on around us all the time, because we had so much to do, and he was left to his own devices. Krüsi then began to paint at the bar in the store, and I saw that there was something there. We gave him paper, bought coloured pencils, and gave him this and that. After that, things became very interesting. I was amazed at his momentum and what he was producing on the paper. I was very impressed, and the customers also knew it was special. Then I started to sell the pictures for him, for 5 to 20 Swiss francs. And, in time, we made a checkout at the bar in the flower shop and renamed the bar “Krüsi bar.” He then provided 44
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Hans Krüsi selling flowers on the street in Zürich photo: Eveline Hoster Meeuwse (archive Kunstmuseum des Kantons Thurgau, Switzerland)
painted coasters and napkins to the restaurants. This brought him joy. But he was not yet known, and I could not make him known in the art world. He did it himself though, by going to the Buchmann Gallery. He then went to various museums in Switzerland and was taken on and formed contacts. Thus the art world became aware of him. He had never painted previously, he only began when he used to wait for us at the store. That was about 1980. Our customers knew him, and it was important to us that he felt at home with us.
below: Hans Kr端si Untitled , 1981, mixed media on paper 9.8 x 13.7 ins., 25 x 35 cm, private collection, Japan
bottom: Theo Old Alarm Clock and Old Closet, 1988 felt pen and coloured pencil on greaseproof paper 10 x 14.5 ins., 25.5 x 37cm, Galerie Miyawaki, Japan
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THE HOPE WE SEEK The transcendent spirit paintings of Donald Pass are being celebrated with a retrospective exhibition at the American Visionary Art Museum
By NUALA ERNEST
onald Pass (1930–2010) was an internationally acclaimed and successful landscape painter based in Cheshire, England, working through the 1950s and 1960s. His subject matter changed suddenly and completely following a tremendous transcendent visionary experience. In 1992 he said, “The motivating force behind all my work began with an experience I had in 1969 when I felt as if a curtain had been removed, and I was a witness to the Resurrection, which was an awe inspiring experience.
The whole of nature seemed to be transfigured, and I was aware of a vast landscape of rising souls, and the sky filled with angels. From that time on, every landscape I saw, up to the present day, is a source of inspiration for this experience of the Resurrection.” Pass’ vision changed his entire perception of reality. He said, “I realised that a veil had been lifted and that I would never again see things in the same way.” At first he could not talk about his experience to anyone, for fear that he would be thought mad. Nor could he render it in paint as he felt all attempts to be inadequate. Pass then rejected abstraction and turned his back on the art scene of London, embracing a figurative style with which he could convey his experience. Pass had experienced other, smaller, transcendent experiences and visions that he felt were leading him to something huge. One of these was when a young man on a train foretold his future, including that “a small man who wore glasses” would help him. With his income severely aﬀected following the change in his work’s subject matter, times had become financially diﬃcult when he had a chance encounter with Sir John Rothenstein, then director of the Tate, who saw some of Pass’ Resurrection works and was so struck by the forms and technique that he did his best to encourage Pass to start painting again. Pass was suﬃciently encouraged and did start working again, and did so consistently from then on, also being struck by the fact that Rothenstein was a small man who wore glasses. Rothenstein described Pass as “a spark of genius, a very rare talent.” Pass’ work is represented in museums in Britain, Australia and the US, and also at the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM), Baltimore, Maryland. In 1999 he won the prestigious “Art of the Imagination” Award at the Mall Galleries, London. His Resurrection paintings were featured in the “Golden Blessings” show at AVAM. left: Triptych (detail), n.d., watercolour on paper, 5 x 15.5 ins., 63.5 x 39.4 cm right: Golden Blessings, 2002, watercolour on paper, 52 x 36 ins., 132.1 x 91.4 cm
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AR TE BRUTA The co-founder of a new museum for Art Brut in Portugal explains the motivation and development of the concept By RICHARD TREGER
y partner, Antonio Saint Silvestre, and I have been collecting art together for over 40 years. I began visiting the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne from an early age, as my parents were living in Switzerland, and it left a deep impression on me. Antonio, being a self-taught sculptor and having exhibited in a number of galleries, later helped me to understand the art market. Twenty years ago we decided to open our own gallery in Paris as we shared the view that the artists we were interested in were not being correctly represented at the time. We both possess similar tastes and so selecting works for our collection has been a fairly smooth process. We come from very diﬀerent backgrounds: I am an Ashkenazic Jew, raised in the Victorian tradition in the fading light of the British Empire, while Antonio is a Latin Roman Catholic who grew up amid the charm and cultural diversity of the nearly intact Portuguese Empire. Being a Zimbabwean and a Mozambican though, we do of course have Africa in common. Africa gave us a taste for the natural and the primitive. It has helped us to appreciate mystery and the spirit of inanimate objects. I don’t think we consciously chose Art Brut as our niche, but when we started dealing with Art Brut galleries we were deeply touched by the sincerity and magic in the works of the artists who we met; they demonstrated astounding creativity and
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independence. Being completely immersed in the unique worlds they created, often working in secret, we saw their works as monuments to intelligence, sensitivity and freedom. We have mixed with academically trained artists, but we often found that their goals were a little too organised for us. We prefer the chaotic and the unpredictable. e result of uprootedness, discontent, madness, obsession or solitude can crystallise the unconscious desires of the creator in the most unique ways. Perhaps it is because we are both immigrants, always on the move, that we feel drawn to these unstable, diﬀerent and eccentric artists. We feel that Art Brut deserves a prominent place in the history of art. Artists such as Gironella, Monsiel and Oskar Voll are a few of the artists in our collection whose work we particularly admire. We were initially interested in Gironella because his sculptures and reliefs were created from cork. Portugal is the world’s biggest cork producer and cork is found wherever you go, from utilities and buildings, to fashion and folk crafts. Gironella manages to reach a dimension that is far beyond conventional art, producing work that is simultaneously very personal, medieval, iconic and sensual. Oskar Voll, a tailor by profession, shows us his experience of the agitated daily life of soldiers in military barracks via his ten drawings
left: Joachim Geronella, Untitled, 1960, cork, 29.5 x 17.3 ins., 75 x 44 cm right: Oskar Voll, pages from untitled sketchbook, n.d., pencil on paper, 8.4 x 10.9 ins., 21.5 x 28 cm
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THE AR T OF JOHNSON An introduction to the mannequins and trucks of Liberian Johnson Weree
By FRANS SMOLDERS
layered structure of the faces and the flatness of the ohnson Weree (b. 1970 in Liberia) draws every busts, armless like busts of Beethoven on a piano, but single day, from early morning until late at night— painted. The decorative bodies are attached to the heads usually heads of middle-aged men and women (very without a neck. Any thick necks are hidden behind the ..occasionally with a child’s head in front of their chests), mandarin collars—or rather, behind the paper-flat and sometimes trucks and SUVs. He draws them in costume made up of a large number of patches of colour, “mixed media”—specifically, ballpoint pens in various which are filled in with light and dark gel pen and dark colours, gel pens, pencils, crayons or pastels. His works ballpoint squiggles. Instead of the bust being drawn right are colourful, attractive and inviting, but at the same down to the edge of the paper, a blank margin is left for time mysterious, and they demand a closer look. the signature and year. The portraits are busts of staring men and women. The torso again contrasts with the background. Short, deep-coloured dark hair drawn in three layers of What is floating ballpoint: red, blue and round the heads in black. Small, expressionless Weree would love to design a vague surroundings? eyes with sharply defined clothing line of his own. For now, No recognisable pupils in the shimmering these drawings are his mannequins. landscape features, whites of the eyes, a dog’s or attributes of the nose with black nostrils at people in the the end of a long-bridged pictures, just floating curlicues or other graceful patterns. nose, an abnormally wide mouth with compressed lips. The clothes are Weree’s own designs; only the bright The staring pupils are like flamed glass marbles, in two, colours suggest Africa. He gives the people style and sometimes three colours. The women are decorated with status, solemnity and self-confident pride, as if they are red blushes or painted beauty spots. The hair is well ceremonially dressed, with ornamental emblems such as styled, combed with a wide parting, sometimes with national flags or military decorations. Is this colourful loose locks ending in graceful curls. The men all have clothing a modern version of historical costumes, or dress receding hairlines, and their Afro-textured hair is also uniforms? Or is it a reference to ostentatious costumes tightly combed. The most recent male drawings have such as those worn by pop idol Michael Jackson? Perhaps geometrically structured faces, with lozenge- or almondeven a vague reference to animal hide patterns or shaped eyes, trapezium-shaped snouts, elliptical or oval camouflage fabric? When asked about this, Johnson mouths. Using straight and curved chalk lines, the face is Weree says that the ideas for the clothing develop in his shaped into a cubistically angular spatial form, own imagination. He makes no secret of the fact that he sometimes in bright colours. would love to design a clothing line of his own. For now, The heads are never viewed from below or the side these drawings are his mannequins. but always face-on, as if you are looking at yourself in a mirror. The drawings are somewhat childlike: the heads very large and wide in relation to the shoulders and the body, at least twice the natural size. The eyes are placed high in the face and far apart, with small pupils in the bright whites of the eyes, the mouths too wide and no trace of ears. Untitled Portraits, 2010–2011 There is an amazing contrast between the depth and mixed media on paper, 19.7, x 12.8 ins., 50 x 32.5 cm
De Stadshof Collection, Museum Dr Guislain 60
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BRASIL & ARTE POPULAR
In them appear recognisable or partly discernible faces of clowns and phantom-like deities; half-human, halfanimal figures; crosses; and stylised Japanese written characters. Sometimes shapes or textures reminiscent of those of knotty wood or strange tree growths emerge out of the murk of M’onma’s dreamscapes, only to recede again as a viewer’s eyes land upon still other elements in the artist’s slowly churning stews of mysterious forms and drippy, ectoplasmic lines. The art-historical affinities of M’onma’s work are diverse. Among other self-taught artists known for similarly fine-line, densely packed compositions, his art brings to mind the drawings of Madge Gill, Edmund Monsiel and Johann Garber. M’onma’s work also evokes the spirit of so-called automatic writing, which intrigued early twentieth-century surrealists. The discovery of M’onma’s work comes as the self-taught/outsider art field in Japan is still taking off. Given this gallery’s well-known interest in finely crafted contemporary and selftaught artists’ works, as well as indigenous-culture art forms, its efforts to situate M’onma’s drawings in a broader context of art history offers an appropriate art-appreciation model at a time when self-taught/outsider art has become more visible than ever in the international art market. Edward M. Gómez
Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico November 17, 2013 – August 10, 2014 Curated by Barbara Mauldin Brasil & Arte Popular, currently on view at the International Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, brings together the hyper-dynamic world of the traditional art forms of Brazil. The influence of Africa and Christian traditions is apparent in many of the works in the show. The exhibition includes forms used in ceremonies that resonate with the power of faith. The deep roots of brasil & arte popular Brazilian culture can be seen throughout the gallery. overall vitality of the work is a testament What is most significant about this to Brazilian culture, identity and the assemblage and what separates it from creative energy of the artists included. your typical survey exhibition of folk art Exhibitions like this one give us time to is Barbara Mauldin’s insightful curatorial pause, to consider the significance of decision to acknowledge the work of regional experience and perception, in individual artists and their contributions contrast to the influence and pressures to Brazilian culture. Some create art that of globalisation. reinforce cultural identity; others Scott Rothstein transcend tradition or explore their own personal artistic voice, often against the LUCID DREAMING: NEW odds. Most of these artists are generally DRAWINGS BY M’ONMA unknown outside of Brazil, but their Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York efforts deserve recognition and January 9 – March 22, 2014 consideration. Isabel Mendes de Cunha’s ceramic Now in his early sixties, M’onma is a bride and groom sculpture, her only self-taught Japanese artist based in piece on display, is nothing less than a Tokyo. A maker of meticulously contemporary masterpiece. The work, rendered images in ink and coloured which is approximately three feet high, pencil on paper, he is a reclusive man is understated and restrained. The who in the past worked as a graphic figures have an empowered gaze and designer and now serves as an artresonate with a sense of dignity. De therapy facilitator. M’onma started Cunha spent most of her life crafting making drawings at an early age. One utilitarian ceramics. It was not until she day, when he was in his twenties, he was was in her mid fifties, 35 years ago, that overcome by the feeling of a power he she developed her sculpted figures. has referred to as “The Entity.” (The Another Brazilian master, whose exhibition’s title referred to the work is beautifully presented in this phenomenon of a dream in which one exhibition, is the woodblock artist, José is aware that one is dreaming). Francisco Borges. Borges writes, Recognising what he encountered illustrates and prints “Cordel literature.” back then as a divine force, M’onma has These books are a tradition that is wellregarded his creations as visual records known and loved in the northeast region of his “Entity”-provoked, dream-like of Brazil. Not only does Borges create experiences. In fact, for nearly two books, he also prints woodblocks that decades after that moment of are narratives in their own right. Several heightened spiritual awareness he made of his books and his high-energy framed no art at all; only in recent years has he graphics are included in the show. devoted himself to making the Seeing these works, dominating two remarkable drawings that were the focus walls in the museum, reveals the of this, his first-ever solo exhibition. remarkable power and imagination of In M’onma’s dense compositions, a one of Brazil’s greatest artist. filigree of fine lines creates multiple Brasil & Arte Popular is a show with layers of overlapping, random patterns. more than 300 pieces on display. The
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AUX FRONTIERES DE L’ART BRUT by Laurent Danchin lelivredart, Paris, 2013 ISBN 9-782355-321818, €28 It is a pity for English readers that this substantial collection of Laurent Danchin’s essays (some of which first appeared in Raw Vision) is in French, and also that, for reasons of expense, it has no illustrations; but it is a monument to more than thirty years of work in the field of Art Brut, Art Singulier and outsider art, over which he has cast a consistently acute eye, as commentator and curator, but above all as the champion of living marginal artists. He has done serious research into figures like Artaud, Dubuﬀet and Ferdiere; and he has maintained a consistent critical perspective on the evolution of this whole territory, from being the preserve of a few to becoming something like a collective treasure hunt: all of this alongside his teaching job. He has charted the ways in which the curatorial canonisation of Art Brut has now led to its becoming an alternative kind of orthodoxy, and he has identified the ways in which many of the marginal artists whom he calls “autodidacts of popular inspiration” belong to a culture that is on the verge of extinction—or mutation—in the face of the dominant “intellectual, pseudo-scientific and academic” system that produces “false images that permanently anaesthetise people’s awareness and subject them to a new soft fascism that is the ubiquitous journalistic or advertising vision” (p 590). All of this is argued with admirable passion and lucidity.
Danchin has always been a discoverer and supporter of living outsider artists such as Serge Vollin or Marie-Jeanne Gil, but it is Chomo, with whom he spent a very considerable amount of time, who will remain his most remarkable discovery, even though he had once had a professional art training. One of the fundamental distinctions Danchin made early on was that between “knowing art” (art savant) and the inspired, if not driven, art of those who “do not know how to draw.” is has served well for a long time, but he now concedes that in what he calls culture’s “ird Estate”— everything that escapes or is excluded from oﬃcial contemporary art—what makes the crucial diﬀerence is “the instinctive, organic, obsessive approach to creation, whether it is knowing or brut, cultivated or uncultivated, professional or autodidact” (p 589). Certainly it is still true, as he writes early on, that “You have to be able to take the brunt of certain works and certain influences, to have within you a ‘madness’ at the same pitch or level […] to avoid the risk of being unbalanced by contact with the obscure forces that they carry.” (p. 68). Let’s be grateful to this brave and dedicated explorer for showing us the way. David Maclagan
ヘンリー・ダーガー 非現 実を生きる HENRY DARGER: LIVING THE UNREAL by Yukiko Koide with other contributors Heibonsha, Tokyo, Japan, 2013 ISBN 978-4-582-63477-8 e only dealer in Japan who primarily specialises in outsider art, Yukiko Koide has played many roles in this area, which, although it has recently boasted much
energy in that country, is still quite new there. Koide has worked as a seller, promoter, researcher and curator in the outsider art field in Japan. She is the translator into Japanese of John M. MacGregor’s book, Henry Darger: In the Realms of the Unreal, which was issued in Japan in 2002. Now, Koide’s own book oﬀers Japanese readers a succinct introduction to the life and work of the legendary Chicago recluse who has become a giant in the outsider art field. Writing in Japanese, Koide backs into the story of his life and that of the creation of his 15,000-plus-page, illustrated story, e Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. She begins by recounting how Darger’s voluminous work was discovered after his death in the modest boarding-house room he had occupied for four decades. She describes Darger as “a collector of images” and pieces of junk, points out that he was a devout Catholic and explains how some of his subject matter, especially depictions of little girls, made its way from magazines and colouring books into his colourful collage compositions. She avoids critical jargon, noting instead that Darger “adopted” or perhaps “abducted” such imagery for his pictures rather than “appropriating” it. Koide tells Raw Vision that her book is “the conclusion” of a Darger exhibition she organised a few years ago. It opened at Laforet Harajuku, an art space in a fashion department store in Tokyo shortly after the tsunami of March 11, 2011. In a short time, some 30,000 visited that show, especially young people. e eccentric artist’s work made a big impression on them, Koide recalls, noting that aspects of the imaginary world Darger portrays in his art echoes certain developments in contemporary Japanese pop culture (for example, a confluence in one style trend of the cute and the frightful), which often seems to thrive on cross-pollinating images and ideas. Koide notes that, “considering the apparent cuteness of Darger’s little girls and the compelling strangeness of his depicted world,” she would like readers to gain a sense of “the solitude out of which his In the Realms of the Unreal was born”—to understand, that is, that the artist’s motivation was sincere, not sensationalistic. After all, enduring, universal themes can be found in Darger’s work, including war, religious belief, discrimination and exploitation. Edward M. Gómez RAW VISION 81
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