Tetsuaki Hotta

Tetsuaki Hotta (1949-2015), Japanese, drew only houses from 1970 onward: untitled, 1982 wax crayon on paper, 26,7 x 37,9 cm Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne

For its second Biennale designed to periodically expose some of the 60’000 works that it owns, this year’s edition at Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne is dedicated to the powerful theme of Architecture.

Published on Time Out Switzerland on 26 December 2015: Link

“The purpose of the biennales is to reveal the treasures that we possess,” indicates Art Brut director, Sarah Lombardi. For the event, more than 300 works (drawings, paintings, sculptures, textile creations, photos and films) by 51 art brut authors adorn the walls and occupy the rooms of Lausanne’s most intriguing museum.

The Collection de l’Art Brut was founded with the collection donated in 1971 by the French painter Jean Dubuffet, who coined the term art brut to define an artistic operation that is completely pure, raw, invented by people “uncontaminated by artistic culture” and who are outside the world of art, hence the name “outsider art” that is also used at times.

The theme Architecture

Curator Pascale Marini-Jeanneret says that the theme Architecture came very naturally following the first edition on the subject of Vehicles in 2013. “It allows us to discover how these persons experience the outside world, how they cope with what is happening around them.”

“It is their way of reclaiming their environments according to their own rules and visions.”

That is not to say, she points out, that all the visions are utopian, some are in fact, quite concrete. But they have in common the ability to provide escapism to individuals who are sometimes imprisoned by their own thoughts or simply deprived of their physical freedom in institutions.

Not surprisingly, perspectives are invariably truncated, if not totally unexistant.

Jacqueline Fromenteau (1925-1976), French/Swiss, depicts architectures where roofs, facades and stairs blend together: untitled, undated black pencil on paper, 22 x 16 cm Photo : Caroline Smyrliadis, Adn-VdL Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne

Jacqueline Fromenteau (1925-1976), French/Swiss, depicts architectures where roofs, facades and stairs blend together: untitled, undated black pencil on paper, 22 x 16 cm Photo : Caroline Smyrliadis, Adn-VdL Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne

As a result, the exhibition is like a visit into the imaginary dwellings of people already trapped in their own minds. The monuments, houses, buildings and cities belong to worlds of fantasy that are rarely inhabited.  They are as close to unreal realities as we shall ever encounter.

Art Brut in the US

While the biennale takes place in Lausanne, New York hosts Art Brut in America: The Incursion of Jean Dubuffet at the American Folk Museum. The 200 works on display are also drawn exclusively from the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne.

On the occasion of the current US exhibition, the New Yorker’s influential critic Peter Schjeldahl offers the following explanation of art brut:

“Starting in 1945 he (Dubuffet) sought out, acquired, and documented works by untutored prisoners, children, people hospitalized for mental illnesses, and eccentric loners, mostly French, Swiss or German, to make a point: ‘civilized’ art was false to human nature and redeemable only by recourse to primal authenticities.”

He hails the exhibition as fascinating, which doesn’t however prevent him from mentioning the “gray zone between outsider genius and insider professionalism”.

Marie-Rose Lortet (1945), French, works in 3D, a rare occurrence in art brut: Maison de fils : auvent, 1984 cloth, lace and stiffened thread, 25 x 26 x 12 cm Photo : Charlotte Aebischer, Adn-VdL Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne

Marie-Rose Lortet (1945), French, works in 3D, a rare occurrence in art brut: Maison de fils : auvent, 1984 cloth, lace and stiffened thread, 25 x 26 x 12 cm Photo : Charlotte Aebischer, Adn-VdL Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne

Art Brut today

Because today the notion of art brut casts a wider net, with the occasional blurring of frontiers, when the art market moves in to make artists aware of their worth and beg them to produce more. Primal authenticities have by and large disappeared in a connected world.

Norimitsu Kokubo (1995), Japanese, his drawings are like travelogues in imaginary cities: untitled (detail), undated, lead pencil and coloured pencil on paper, 58 x 43 cm, Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne

Norimitsu Kokubo (1995), Japanese, his drawings are like travelogues in imaginary cities: untitled (detail), undated, lead pencil and coloured pencil on paper, 58 x 43 cm, Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne

What we do however discover in the Lausanne show is how artistic expression continues to be a remedy for people who are estranged from their own environment and who have found architectures to allow them to belong again, none more strikingly than a Japanese 20 year-old by the name of Norimitsu Kokubo:

At the opening, the tall young man moved up closely to his extraordinarily detailed drawings and studied them carefully, as if choosing a spot to re-enter into his own world.

Architecture exhibition, 13 november 2015 – 17 april 2016

Collection de l’art brut

Patrick Gimel (1952), French, severely handicapped at birth, worked as a storeman: untitled, 1981 Indian ink on tracing paper, 57,8 x 47,5 cm Photo : Morgane Détraz, Adn-VdL Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne

Patrick Gimel (1952), French, severely handicapped at birth, worked as a storeman: untitled, 1981 Indian ink on tracing paper, 57,8 x 47,5 cm Photo : Morgane Détraz, Adn-VdL Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne

 

Augustin Lesage (1876-1954), French, former miner who received a spiritual calling to draw. Collection de l'Art Brut

Augustin Lesage (1876-1954), French, former miner who received a spiritual calling to draw. Collection de l’Art Brut

Michèle Laird, née Haffner, trained as a journalist, became an international arts administrator (visual arts and theatre), successively in Paris, New York and London before moving to Switzerland, where she now covers the art beat and presides several associations.

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