The Japanese Outsider Art Exhibition takes place at the Wellcome Collection from Thursday 28th March – Sunday 30th June 2013. Art lovers should most certainly have this fantastic exhibition penciled in their diaries as the Wellcome Collection showcases the first exhibition of its kind this year. This wonderful exhibition looks at a relatively unusual art movement and sees over 300 pieces from 46 artists displayed in the gallery.
Outsider Art is often described as work created by self-taught artists seen to be at the margins of society, such as children, inmates, those who are institutionalized and those who have little to no contact with the mainstream art world. The resulting work is often incredibly unique, portraying unconventional ideas and styles.
This exhibition showcases work ranging from sculptures and paintings, to textiles and ceramics, and all have been created by artists who come from social welfare institutions from the main Japanese island of Honshu.
The exhibition is not only displaying extraordinary pieces of artwork for the public, but it is also recording the personal approaches that the individual artists have taken in creating their art. The exhibition is divided into six overlapping sections, labeled Language, Making, Representation, Relationships, Culture and Possibility, and these explore the reasons behind the artwork and what it tells us about the artists themselves.
The Language section is perhaps the most interesting as it focuses on the creative release and expressions of those artists who have difficulty communicating verbally or through writing. Most notable of this artwork is the diary of hieroglyphs by Takanori Herai and the intricate cityscapes created through the use of a single unknown symbol.
The work showcased in the Representation and Relationships sections demonstrate how the individuals perceive the world around them and the ways they have chosen to express that form. For instance, Sakiko Kono has made dolls that represent friends, family and carers at the facility where she stays, and their size reflects her level of affection towards each one. Other pieces of work in these sections include self portraits that are highly idealized or sexualized, and dystopian images of the modern world.
Outsider Art is a style that is growing in popularity, however it is often perceived as purely introspective. The Culture section of the exhibition aims to contest this view as the work in this section demonstrates awareness of the outside world and the Japanese culture, such as in the case of the origami figures created by Keisuke Ishino, or the post war movie posters that have been recreated from memory by Daisuke Kibushi.