Title: The Outsider
By: Various (edited by Neil Coombs)
Publisher: Dark Windows Press
No, not the novel by Camus or S.E. Hinton. Instead this book takes a piercing look into the worlds of tragically neglected artists, with an unmatched scope.
‘The Outsider’ looks at the work of outsider artists and includes essays written by the artists themselves.
Recently there has been a growing interest in the work of outsiders (artists working outside of the system of traditional education and galleries). This interest in itself is a contraversial issue with a catch-22 element. If outsider art becomes part of the mainstream, then how can it still be defined as being ‘outside’ of the art system?
There is also a lot of predjudice against the outsider label, as it can be used in a derogatory way- suggesting that outsider art does not take as much skill as academic art.
“The Outsider” tackles these issues by going directly to the artists for information. However it does also take on the analysis of outsider art by industry ‘professionals’.
The book mostly looks at artists troubled by mental health issues. It praises this intense ‘sometimes obsessional’ art and its ‘undeviating honesty’. Some of the artists use their work to escape into a ‘private world’ whilst others use art to express the grim realities of their illnesses. One woman creates art based on the commands of her spirit guide.
“The Outsider” covers art from all over the world, and in a massive variety of styles. Pencil sketches are included beside oil paintings and sculptures made of found objects. All of the art is reproduced beautifully- these images alone make the book stand out.
The essays in the book are secondary to the raw power of the artworks; but they all provide fascinating and independent perspectives.
Overall “The Outsider’ is a fierce decleration of war against the pitfalls of the contemporary art world.