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)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

more greek mythology: icarus (miscellaneous 4)

more greek mythology (see icarus on wikipedia):

icarus sans wings ~ frank waaldijk
icarus sans wings (own work, 2011, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

from wikipedia:
Icarus's father, Daedalus, a talented and remarkable Athenian craftsman, attempted to escape from his exile in the palace of Knossos, Crete, where he and his son were imprisoned at the hands of King Minos, the king for whom he had built the Labyrinth to imprison the Minotaur (half man, half bull).
Daedalus, the superior craftsman, was exiled because he gave Minos' daughter, Ariadne, a clew[2] (or ball of string) in order to help Theseus, the enemy of Minos, to survive the Labyrinth and defeat the Minotaur with a sword which was used to stab the Minotaur in the neck.
Daedalus fashioned two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers for himself and his son.
Trying his wings first, Daedalus before taking off from the island,warns his son not to fly too close to the sun, nor too close to the sea, but to follow his path of flight.
Overcome by the giddiness that flying lent him, Icarus soared through the sky curiously, but in the process he came too close to the sun, which melted the wax.
Icarus kept flapping his wings but soon realized that he had no feathers left and that he was only flapping his bare arms.
And so, Icarus fell into the sea in the area which bears his name, the Icarian Sea near Icaria, an island southwest of Samos.

dream of icarus ~ frank waaldijk
dream of icarus (own work, 2011, 40 x 41 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

(you may notice some subconscious, surreal elements... also see the starting post of this `miscellaneous´ thread)

the fall of icarus is usually associated with having too much hubris, being an irresponsible high-flyer etc. again there is an absolutely brilliant painting by pieter brueghel the elder depicting the fall of icarus. but, contrary to popular opinion under art historians, i think maybe brueghel´s intention was not to criticize icarus, but to criticize us, for not even noticing extraordinary events, for pretending not to see them, to not help people in distress, etc. (see my 2008 posts on brueghel´s painting)

pieter bruegel, the fall of icarus

pieter brueghel the elder, landscape and the fall of icarus (click on the image for an enlargement)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

charon awaits on the styx (miscellaneous 3)

continuing in this vein...connecting to greek mythology (see charon on wikipedia)

charon awaits on the styx ~ frank waaldijk
charon awaits on the styx (own work, 2011, 30 x 61 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

(in original greek sources, the river acheron is the river across which charon ferries the dead, but the styx has taken that place in popular perception...and in mine...)

this is also a widely depicted theme in western art history. let me give an example of one of gustave doré's etchings which he made to illustrate dante's divina commedia:

charon herds the sinners onto his boat ~ gustave doré
gustave doré, charon herds the sinners onto his boat (click on the image for an enlargement)

charon on his boat ~ gustave doré
gustave doré, charon on his boat (click on the image for an enlargement)

Friday, March 23, 2012

the slow triumph of death (miscellaneous 2, see `way of working')

`the triumph of death' is an old medieval/renaissance theme, mostly in painting and etching/drawing. the theme, also known as danse macabre, embodies that we are all mortal, and as such no earthly difference in status, riches, piety, conduct will help anyone to escape death.

i've made a small construction-sculpture on the same theme (with a sidewise reference to damien hirst's `for the love of god' although lacking false modesty i really consider the below work to have more depth, irony and all):

the slow triumph of death ~ frank waaldijk
the slow triumph of death (own work, 2010-2011, 30 x 15 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

the sculpture contains various ways in which we meet our end...;-) (largely invisible, on the other side there is a pink cadillac-like car)

of course, a completely brilliant version of this theme by pieter brueghel the elder cannot be left out:

the triumph of death ~ pieter brueghel
pieter brueghel the elder, the triumph of death (1567, click on the image for an enlargement)

this has to be one of the alltime masterpieces of western art, even though its subject is not so cheerful... which then explains why i added a large dollop of ironic humor to the sculpture above ;-)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

pink elephant (miscellaneous 1, see `way of working')

pink elephant ~ frank waaldijk
pink elephant (own work, 2010-2012, 32 x 48 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

so, as illustration of this way of working, i'm putting up a series of recent stuff, with a few comments. the above drawing serves to illustrate the power of the subconscious...since i have little conscious knowledge of what an elephant looks like. but i felt like drawing an elephant, and since i know it's better to let the hand lead...i stopped thinking about it and just drew.

then, finally, i added some photoshop touch to the background.

to me it seems that digital influence on hand-created works and vice versa, is a promising field. but usually i'm inclined to not use digital enhancements, or only very sparingly. however, there have been a number of designs where there was a cycle: drawing, photoshop, printing, drawing,... yielding very nice results.

so although i'm very traditional by most standards, i like to use digital techniques also (limited as my skills may be).