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Outsider Art in JAPAN - Figures of Solitude

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Outsider Art in JAPAN - Figures of Solitude


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'Souzou' is a word that has no direct translation in English but a dual meaning in Japanese. It can be written two ways, meaning either 'creation' or 'imagination'.

Outsider Art has its origins in the French word art brut, which described art made by those outside the art scene particularly that created in 19th Century European Psychiatric Hospitals. In The 1940s, surrealists like Dubuffet and Max Ernst became interested in this art, and Outsider Art came to be more broadly interpreted as outside a didactic tradition and outside the boundaries of official culture. It was often unsettling and indecipherable, yet undeniably arresting. While it did not follow the artistic fashion of its time, Outsider Art nevertheless responds to the times in unexpected ways. For this reason Outsider Art has a growing following in world art circles.

Outsider Art has also had an influence on the introduction and development of art therapy programs around the world. In Japan’s art therapy programs, materials are typically made available to the participants without any instruction on what they should make or how they should make it. The results are astonishing and diverse. The work of Japanese outsider artists has now been featured in galleries in London, Lausanne and the Venice Biennale.

Outsider Art in Japan” is a series of films that demonstrates the circumstances of some of these outsider artists, and how their art is created. With immense concentration, with zen like calm, methodically, obsessively, they create mysterious objects and fantastic drawings. The creation is ritual, reality into fantasy, fantasy into reality, revealing a logic that is perplexing yet strangely familiar.

Feautured in Volume 9: Norikazu Usui, Osamu Nadoyama, Yoshito Matsuo

This title is part of a collection featuring 10 Volumes, 30 artists. The volumes are also available as a set: Outsider Art in Japan Volumes 1-10

Norikazu Usui
Born in 1963. Lives in Hida City, Gifu Prefecture. His motto is "art is rock." He paints on the discarded sheets of cardboard and boards of wood. After his mother's death, he began living in a room filled with organized towers of empty cans and plastic bowls. All of his tools other than paints and brushes are discarded objects found on the street.

Osamu Nadoyama
Born in 1964. Lives in Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture.He draws the voices he hears in his head. A young woman says things such as, "I love you," "You're mine," and even, "Die." Perhaps he is trying to stop these voices by transferring them to paper.

Yoshito Matsuo
Born in 1966. Lives in Nasushiobara City, Tochigi Prefecture. Some would point out that his arrow is modern art. When I see him carrying his "arrow pointing at me" it is simply interesting, and the act of labeling it modern art or outsider art seems unimportant.

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