Castlefield Gallery has announced Inside Out, curated in collaboration with David Maclagan artist, academic and writer; including new and existing work by artists from the UK, South Africa, France, Iran and the USA. Some of these artists for a variety of reasons are thought to be Outsider artists, whilst others may be seen to share methods of approaching their subject matter with this now established part of artistic study.
As well as considering the increasingly fraught definitions of what Outsider Art is, the exhibition aims to consider the aesthetic intensity common to this selection of artists, who might not normally be seen together and to look at their potential to deal with or express the complex nature of being in the world.
The full list of artists includes: Darren Adcock, Nick Blinko, Peter Darach, Andrea Joyce Heimer, Carlo Keshishian, Joel Lorand, David Maclagan, Richard Nie, Mehrdad Rashidi, Mit Senoj, Marlene Steyn, Jenna Kayleigh Wilkinson.
The concentration seen in this selection of drawings and paintings in ink, oil, pencil and pen could be attributed to an ‘inner world’ driven by powerful forces, even to the point of obsession. This is evident in the way lines crowd in on themselves in work by Adcock, Keshishian and Wilkinson, though it can equally be seen in the crowding of figures on the edge of fantasy and memory in Darach’s large paintings, the strange neighbourhood tales of Heimer and the forms conjured by Rashidi from nostalgic memories of his homeland.
In places there is a sense of an overwhelming pressure to create, which perhaps owes something to the fact that many of these artists have worked in isolation, or even from a position so marginal as to be called ‘Outsider’. However intense their subject matter may be, they also tap into a compulsive engagement with the art-making process, so that the expression of extreme inner experiences emerges through the making of the work itself as with Blinko, Maclagan and Nie.
Interweaving bodies, mythical creatures, flora and fauna in Lorand, Senoj and Steyn, creates works which are frighteningly seductive, bordering at times on the grotesque whilst opening onto a profound beauty; they form untimely tapestries, mixing references to religious and historical artefacts.
This exhibition of seemingly unconstrained works moves between the figurative and the abstract, confronting the nature of our experience as both body and mind; reflected through our many selves and the material world within and around us. The exhibition hopes to give rise to a passionate mixture of darkness and light, tragic and ecstatic; that visitors may find both exciting and unsettling.