Wednesday, April 11, 2012

what is an outsider artist? am i outsider in any sense? 2 (intermezzo in the miscellaneous series)

nek chand, rock garden monkeys
nek chand saini, monkeys in the rock garden of chandigarh (photo giridhar appaji nag y)

(continued from the previous post) from wikipedia on outsider art:
The term outsider art was coined by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972 as an English synonym for art brut (French: "raw art" or "rough art"), a label created by French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art created outside the boundaries of official culture; Dubuffet focused particularly on art by insane-asylum inmates.

While Dubuffet's term is quite specific, the English term "outsider art" is often applied more broadly, to include certain self-taught or Naïve art makers who were never institutionalized. Typically, those labeled as outsider artists have little or no contact with the mainstream art world or art institutions. In many cases, their work is discovered only after their deaths. Often, outsider art illustrates extreme mental states, unconventional ideas, or elaborate fantasy worlds.

Outsider art has emerged as a successful art marketing category (an annual Outsider Art Fair has taken place in New York since 1993). The term is sometimes misapplied as a catch-all marketing label for art created by people outside the mainstream "art world," regardless of their circumstances or the content of their work. goes to show, i think, that noone really knows a workable definition of outsider art.


for me personally, there are many situations in which i feel an outsider. and this is linked to mental health issues too, specifically depression. the way i see art and create art is a reflection of how i see life, society, nature,... by which i mean to indicate that art most often has a spiritual meaning to me.

i think much in our society operates on unspiritual grounds, to put it mildly. homo homini lupus est, dog eat dog, you know the drill. these unspiritual mechanisms are just as prevalent in the art world. and i cannot really bear with them, as i have found to my detriment over the years.

therefore, my understanding has become that i am in quite some measure an outsider artist. like i stated in the previous post, this doesn't change the art one pixel, but it helps me to embrace the direction in which my explorations take me. i have however no inclination to use it as a marketing strategy, for various reasons.


here an interesting fragment of a documentary interview with jean dubuffet on art brut (in french)

what is an outsider artist? am i outsider in any sense? (miscellaneous 6)

well, those to me are valid questions, although it is once again simply a labeling issue (it doesn't change one pixel about the art...). the questions firstly have a psychological nature, for myself as an artist, to determine whether i would like to be part of `mainstream' art or not. and secondly, perhaps more importantly, they could of course determine my marketing strategy as an artist. in my case however, i think that both `outsider' and `mainstream' apply, in equal measure. try marketing that ;-)

notre dame des anges as outsider, frank waaldijk
notre dame des anges as outsider ii (own work, 2012, 35 x 40 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

(repeated from earlier: the woman portraits made in this series share the name `notre dame des anges´. this is a reference to the `medieval´ spirituality i mentioned above. but the portraits are of course not a depiction of maria. they are intended as portraits of contemporary women emanating this type of spirituality which i find hard to describe.)

self-portrait with artist eyes, frank waaldijk
self portrait with artist eyes (own work, 2011, 10 x 15 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

i'm experimenting with paint and other materials, but not in the karel-appel large-canvas, heavy-layering-and-dripping way (maybe in the future?). still, it led me to the following self-portrait:

the green glob almost wiped me out, but the giant red amoebe helped me to redefine myself, frank waaldijk
the green glob almost wiped me out, but the giant red amoebe helped me to redefine myself (own work, 2011, 30 x 40 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

(to be continued)

more icarus (miscellaneous 5)

more icarus, since i forgot to add this latest work to the previous post:

icarus sans wings ~ frank waaldijk
icarus sans wings ii (own work, 2012, 32 x 48 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)