Discover Japanese Outsider Art @ Explore Wellcome

The spring exhibition of Japanese Outsider Art in the UK at Wellcome Collection is being presented from 28 March 2013 to 30 June 2013. Although ‘outsider’ can be construed in many different ways, it refers to all attendees of social welfare institutions in Japan’s Shiga Prefecture in this latest exhibition. They produce their art as a form of therapy or distraction without any intention of becoming the masters in this field. However, the works of the 46 artists in the show are so fascinating and good that their backgrounds fade away. The art objects include tiny wire-frame superheroes, large clay totem poles, abstract diaries and bawdy nudes. Since this will be the last show at Wellcome before its refurbishment, it deserves to be seen.

The spring exhibition, which will be the first major display of Japanese Outsider Art in the UK, has a collection of more than 300 works by 46 artists who are residents and day attendees at social welfare institutions across Japan. The collection is wonderfully diverse in nature as it contains ceramics, paintings, textiles, sculpture and drawings.

The exhibition has been organised in association with Het Dolhuys, the Museum of Psychiatry in Haarlem (the Netherlands) and the Social Welfare Organisation Aiseikai (Tokyo). It reflects the growing acclaim for ‘Outsider Art’, which is a term that comes from French artist Jean Dubuffet’s theory of ‘Art Brut’ coined in the 1940′s, meaning art that has been created in a ‘raw’ form and one that has not been influenced or contaminated by outside culture. In recent cases, the term refers to work made by artists without any training. The displayed works have been created by self-taught artists living and working within social welfare facilities across Japan. These artists do not consider themselves to be artists but they see art as a way of life.

The show is expected to be object-led with an amazing display of various works that offer singular and affecting explorations of culture, memory and creativity. At the end of the exhibition, a series of documentary films highlighting some of the exhibiting artists will be played. The collection of objects does not provide any information on the background of the artists and their mental problems and the work is allowed to speak for itself.

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