A few months back, you may have seen my call out for artists to submit work on the theme of ‘outsider art’ for an online exhibition. Well, we had some great, diverse submissions, and the exhibition is now ready.
If you are a regular reader of kdoutsiderart.com you will have noticed a focus on the terminology itself and how this might impact on the artists it represents. Throughout history, the different language used to describe what we call outsider art has usually been decided by someone who is not themselves an ‘outsider artist.’
For this online exhibition, I wanted to bring in the perspective of artists who are regularly ‘labelled’ by the term to bring some balance to the continuing conversation.
As human beings, I think it’s incredibly difficult to not label things. We do it all the time – using our own memory and experience, we group things with other similar things (objects, people, places) in a bid to make sense of them. It has been the same throughout the history of art: work created with quick, expressive brushstrokes towards the latter part of the 19th century was labelled ‘Impressionism,’ and Dali, Magritte and others who produced work from their unconscious were named ‘Surrealists.’ So, it is not unique to have a name for a group of art or artists. However, what’s puzzling about the term outsider art is that it doesn’t describe a specific artistic style; rather, it describes the person who created the work.
This exhibition aims to shine a light on the views of artists who align themselves – or who have been aligned – with the term ‘outsider art.’ The callout received mixed responses to the question: what does outsider art mean to you? From experience, there seems to be a split between artists who are very happy to be included under the ‘outsider art’ umbrella, and those who would rather not be. It has been great hearing artists’ alternative titles; I’ve heard things like ‘Independent Art,’ ‘Dark Surrealist Art,’ ‘Symbolic Automatism,’ ‘Nomadic Art.’
My hope is that this online exhibition will be a rich addition to the continuing conversation around the term outsider art.
Featured image: Ofir Hirsch, La Hechicera Enamorada Terrenero