The artists in this exhibition, for the most part, work on the fringes of the establishment art world with little, if any, support. Since these self-taught artists are not part of any school or movement, they have no tradition to work their way out of or into a particular process. The work produced by these creators sometimes is referred to as “outsider art,” the term of which was coined by the English scholar Roger Cardinal who championed these individuals when their work became recognized in America. The Modernists’ good – bad paradigm for assessing its imagery hardly applied; it was not a part of the western tradition of aesthetic thought.
Irreverent toward material, plastic values, and the concerns of academic art, these artists generally remain elemental in their styles of representation, comfortable in not knowing how to draw. Composition may be a foreign concept and color more a function of amusement than theory. They are interested in creating a world in which they are comfortable in or exploring the one in which they do live in.
Each artist in this show has had to find his or her uniquely individual voice. This was their primary task – together with the acquisition of the prerequisite skills required to shape that “voice” into whatever their inner vision directed.
The slightly mad and zany paintings and assemblages in this exhibit, in which almost anything happens in conjunction with some of the most outrageous combinations of colors, textures, objects, and scribblings seem almost frivolous and trivial, if not downright silly.
And yet there is something irresistible about them, something so good-natured that they are impossible to ignore. What is remarkable is how oddly appropriate even the zaniest of their colors or details are to their overall compositions, even though at first they appeared to have been included without rhyme or reason. What had originally appeared as a confused jumble of childishly executed shapes, colors and objects is actually a rather sophisticated pictorial statement operating under an odd kind of inner logic all its own, the kind of logic that permits some individuals to wear dramatically mismatched clothing – and yet carry it off with aplomb – or lends fascination to tales told by children.
And that is precisely what these pieces in the show are: childlike inventions and pictorial tales that hold their own in our adult world by the nature of their external obedience to the artists’ private inner worlds of impulse and imagination. Inner worlds of memories, loves, fears, fascinations, and dreams – all coexisting within them and springing forth naturally and spontaneously through the courtesy of their creative intuition.
It is this spontaneous outflow of highly accessible, imaginative inner material and excitement that determines the nature of “Outsider Art” – an overflow that has put a powerful stamp upon the art of the time.
George S. Bolge, CEO
Museum of Art – DeLand, Florida