The three artists in this exhibition are travelers. Part of the power and joy of traveling is that it can be formless and depends on the creativity and resourcefulness of the traveler to mark whatever the journey’s boundaries may be. This exhibition presents three kind of travelers. None of them are tourists.
One kind of travel manifests as personal observation of history as it is shaped by the passing of encountering local customs. This is a natural form of travel, a narrative lived by the traveler. It can be limited to the place one is born. In the case of Mohammed Babahoum (b. 1933) we get an insiders’ vision of a mystical people’s, Babahoums’ people’s, daily traditions, the Gnawa of Morocco, who are in transition between old and new. Babahoum is the elder who is so part of his landscape that his drawings shimmer in their timelessness like dust specks in bright sun. He travels through his own memories and sees and remembers everything in a narrative that is dreamlike and very real at the same time. One can hear the silence of the desert broken by Gnawa trance music and camels grunting and the cries of the market women, or the desolate buzz of a single voracious fly.
Another kind of travel is to go within oneself and abandon or abstract all references to the mundane world. Davood Koochaki (b. 1939) seems to draw almost Neolithic creatures from the cave walls of his imagination. His work begins and ends with each sensual gestural form created from thousands of pencil marks. The making of the drawing itself is an incantation. After a while one sees that in some of the drawings, as with Babahoum, he has managed to record not only visionary beings but also, with a deep dark humor, the human warmth and restless energy of the eternal family. His work is now represented in the Collection de L’Art Brut in Lausanne.
Novadi Angkasapura’s travel is a complex one. Born in politically troubled Jayapura, Irian Jaya, in 1979, he migrated to Jakarta, Indonesia from the rich and deep cultural amalgam of his birthplace to a turbulent and varied mixture of faiths and acculturations and political struggles in his new home. His work is a powerful mix of observation, visions, dreams, and ethnic and spiritual references that come together in a mysterious poetic universality. His drawings are represented in the Collection de L’Art Brut in Lausanne.
These artists all make work stemming from diverse motivations. While they sell their work to the public, they do not shape it to public tastes. The intentionality is, for each, singular and the styles are hard won and developed over time. “Outsider Art” and Art Brut are being expanded from within by the artmaking visionaries of the Non-Western world. Cavin-Morris has always been an advocate for this beautiful, intense, and real diversity.