Rozhovor s Henkom Van Es o jeho blogu OUTSIDER ENVIROMENTS zameranom na neobvyklé umelecké prejavy ľudí neškolených vo výtvarnom umení. Je o výtvarných aktivitách rôznych podivínov, nadšencov, bláznov, outsiderov z celého sveta.
Rozhovor som robil prostredníctvom mailu, je v angličtine.
1. To begin with, please introduce little bit yourself and tell something more about your blog activities. When did you start and what were the reasons? Are you in contact with similar bloggers focused to outsider art/art-brut/naive-art etc.?
First I would like to say, that I am quite happy indeed you invited me to talk about my weblog, because one of the reasons I started it is my conviction that art environments should become better known.
And then a little bit about myself. I was born in Amsterdam, studied political science and worked at the town hall of Amsterdam in the fields of public health and social care. When I became retired I had no idea that I would become so active in collecting and disseminating information about this special field of art. But so it did happen indeed and I must say, I am very satisfied with it.
It all started when on a holiday in France in the late 1990’s I visited Picassiette’s mosaic decorated house in Chartres and got so impressed that I began to search the internet for comparable sites. At that time the internet had no social media, so I stored my findings in a paper notebook.
In 2006 and 2007 the first Spanish and French blogs about outsider art were published and In the course of 2008 I thought I could just as well join these and share the information about art environments I meanwhile had collected in a weblog. So on November 11, 2008 the weblog Outsider Environments Europe was published for the first time.
With regard to my contacts with other people who are engaged in publishing about outsider art/art environments, I would like to refer to Raija Kallioinen and Minna Haveri from Finland, as well as Pavel Konečný from the Czech Republic who together with me form the editorial board of the Facebook page Outsider Art Environments Europe, a site that reports about developments in the field of art environments. I also have good contacts with Sophie Lepetit from France, who is very active in writing about outsider art and art environments on her weblog Les grigris de Sophie (from 2006 on), like I also have good relations with Jo Farb Hernandez, editor of the U.S website SPACES (from 2012 on), a site to which I contribute texts.
And then I would like to mention my internet friend Alexander Emelyanov from Russia, who created a rather special art environment in and around his house in Samara and who helps me in tracing art environments in the European part of the Russian Federation.
2. Where did you find all of those amazing artworks which you published on your blog?
When I started researching art environments in the late 1990's the internet had no social media, just websites. I traced a US website named Jane’s addictions (not operational anymore) where to my surprise I found a list of some twenty of thirty art environments in France, all described very briefly. But I had the names of the artists and began to Google these. I also traced newspapers from the region where these art environments were located. In this way I got the info about the creations which I penned in my notebook.
I also read a french bulletin entitled Zon’art (1999-2008), which was published on the internet and had a variety of articles about art brut, folk art, art “hors- normes” and art environments.
When in 2008 I began my weblog, other french weblogs about outsider art/art environments and medio like Facebook had started. These became good sources to trace information about art environments and get into contact with other lovers of outsider art/art environments.
3. How did you first get in touch with outsider art?
That was after I had visited the house of Picassiette in the late 1990’s. In the years before I was acquainted with modern art by visiting the Municipal Museum in Amsterdam and I also knew about naive, self-taught artists and people with disabilities making visual art, but it was only when I started to explore developments in France that I came across a range of concepts such as art brut, art singulier, art hors normes and their Anglo-Saxon equivalent "outsider art"
4. Are you a collector, or active artist, or both?
No, I am not collecting or creating outsider art myself.
5. Can you recommend some museum/gallery/space with good outsider-art collection?
For me the most interesting museum that in its collection combines interest in outsider art and in art environments is the French private museum La Fabuloserie in Dicey, France. In addition to the extensive collection of art "hors normes", there are a number of items from once existing art environments, including the showpiece Pierre Avezard’s Merry-go-round.
Next comes the Lille Art Museum, also in France, that in its department about outsider art also present creations in the field of art brut and in the field of art environments.
Other interesting museums and collections, focussing upon art brut or outsider art as such, can be found in Lausanne (Collection d’Art Brut), Paris (Halle St Pierre), Heidelberg (Prinhorn Collection) and Amsterdam (Outsider Art Museum)
6. Can you recommend some outsider artists who are special for you and tell why? Any forgotten talents, hidden workshops, stray artworks?
In this respect I would first refer to Polina Rayko, an outsider artist from Ukraine, to whom I already dedicated a review in a very early phase of my weblog. Apart from these sweet memories in the context of my weblog, I am struck by the way in which she overcame the problems she had encountered in her life by touchingly painting all the walls of her house in Oleshky, near Kherson.
Another creator of an art environment who is special to me is Alexander Emelyanov, from Samara, Russia, an outsider artist who not only created a special, contemporary art environment, but who also helped me discover other creators of art environments in Russia.
7. Is there some specific gallery specialised on Outsider art /art-brut in Central/East Europe? I read that there is gallery BAB (brut art gallery) in Budapest. Have you ever been there?
Art galleries in general focus on self-contained creations in the field of visual art, such as paintings and sculptures. Creations in the field of art environments as such cannot be transported and so these do not belong to their business, apart from maybe a single work originating from a (for example no longer existing) site. So I am not very well acquainted with the world of outsider art galleries.
However I know that the ABCD collection in Paris since 2004 has a dependency in Prague, named abcd Prague. (ABCD stands for art brut, connaissance & diffusion - art brut, knowledge & diffusion).
And indeed in Budapest there is the Budapest Art Brut Gallery. I have never been there, but I checked their website ( https://artbrut.hu/) and they have news about a recent exposition, so they are active.
In Serbia, a number of art brut artists have united in the Art Brut Serbia group, which as far as I know cooperates with respect to sales and exhibitions with Gallery Aquarius in Kosovo, a gallery that has grown into a cultural center.
8. If we compare following terms: Outsider art:Art-Brut: Naive-art - what are the differences, what are the similarities?
Naive art is a term that originated in the 19th century (especially in France) and was used to designate painters without art education. Their way of expressing was mostly realistic, but somewhat childish and often without any use of perspective. These artists were also in some way related to the cultural life in society.
This last factor does not apply to the art brut artists in the strict description as introduced by Dubuffet after the Second World War to denote those artists who were not related to cultural life in society, such as psychiatric patients, but who nevertheless expressed themselves creatively.
Over the years in France the term art brut has been used in a much broader sense to indicate artists without academic training and a highly personal, subjective way of expressing. In France variations on the designation art brut appear when terms are used such as art singulier (singular art) and art hors normes (art out of the ordinary) with subtle differences between these terms.
The term outsider art in 1972 was introduced (in a book by British professor Roger Cardinal) as the english equivalent for art brut as used in France in the broad sense. The term has been widely used in England, the USA and other english speaking countries. Currently in the USA it is becoming replaced by the term non-mainstream art.
In the title of my weblog I use the term outsider to denote someone without an art education.
9. When you had to choose the 5 most interesting artists, which would be the most interesting according to you?
In the field of art environments I would include in the top five:
- Joseph Ferdinand Cheval (1836-1924), Palais Idéal (France)
- Veijo Rönkkönen (1944-2010), Sculpture garden (Finland)
- Francisco González Grajera (1926-2016), El capricho de Cotrina (Spain)
- Bonaria Manca (b.1925), Casa dei simboli (Italy)
- Vojtech Kopic (1909-1978), Kopicova skalní galerie (Czech Republic)
10. Can you recommended some interesting publications, books about this kind of art?
A well illustrated book about both outsider art and art environments is John Maizel, Raw Creation. Outsider Art and Beyond. London, 1996 -240 p.
Then there is Raw Vision, an illustrated quarterly magazine that reports about developments both in outsider art and art environments. This magazine also publishes the Outsider Art Sourcebook (latest edition 2016), kind of a guide to the world of outsider art.
In my blog I have a page with an annotated overview of the in my opinion most interesting publications about art environments in Europe.
Pictures/photos are taken from the Outisder Enviroments blog.
Thank you so much for your time and answers.