Building on the growing status of Outsider Art over the past year, Pallant House Gallery is delighted to present Intuitive Folk in the De’Longhi Print Room from 26 February – 27 April 2014; a juxtaposition of two Japanese Outsider Artists with two British Outside In artists, all of whom share an intuitive approach to their work.
Japanese artist Masao Obata’s distinctive drawings on cardboard will be placed alongside Chaz Waldren’s intuitive and decorative works, and Shinichi Sawada’s thorny creatures will be displayed with Jason Pape’s playful ceramic animals.
Despite their diverse backgrounds and lack of access to the traditional art world, the commonality in their work is striking. Masao Obata and Chaz Waldren produce work about the fundamental importance of human relationships, either as reality or aspiration. Imaginary beasts and animals feature in the work of Shinichi Sawada and Jason Pape. Both use clay to create powerful forms full of energy and passion which offer the chance to glimpse into the creative impulse of humans and feel the primal relationships we have with animals both real and imagined.
This exhibition allows audiences to compare the work of these four 'intuitive folk' juxtaposing their processes, cultural experiences and motivations to create.
Masao Obata (1943-2010), born in Okayama Prefecture, Japan, began drawing after the age of 60. The major themes in his work are ‘marriage’ and ‘family’, both of which eluded him throughout his life. All of his drawings are produced in a distinctive style, often in red; the colour he associates with happiness. Over the years, many of his works were discarded whenever his home – a Social Welfare Centre – was cleaned. Similarly, Chaz Waldren (b. 1950), who lives in Felpham, West Sussex, has a unique style that is infused with a decorative folk art quality and religious symbolism, but, unlike Obata, it is intensely personal, with every piece connected to his wife Sally and their life together, along with his strong Christian beliefs.
Obata and Waldren produce work about the fundamental importance of human relationships, either as reality or aspiration. As in the work of Sawada and Pape, there is a deep intuitive symbolism and ritual to the subjects they draw – Waldren’s works are infused with both religion and a love of his wife Sally and Obata’s of the deeper symbolism of marriage and the sexes. They both make use of unlikely materials and processes using cardboard, cheap paper, gel pens and colouring crayons. This openness to non-traditional materials, either through choice or necessity, is often characteristic of art that has sidestepped convention.
In a similar comparison, the fantastic ceramic forms of Japanese-born Shinichi Sawada (b. 1982) that speak of dragons and imaginary creatures from Japanese culture have a powerful quality similar to the equine forms of Jason Pape (b. 1986); whose works are redolent of an almost prehistoric love and worship of animals. Sawada uses agile fingers to attach thorns to his sculptures, one after another. At times, he smiles to himself in pleasure, working away in silence at a studio in the Japanese mountains.
Pape’s models are individual, each with its own character; they are tactile, friendly and humorous. Of his juxtaposition with Sawada, Pape says: “I think we both experience the world in a different way to neuro-typical people, and that enables us to create art work which is out of the ordinary.”
Both Obata and Sawada’s work was displayed in Souzou at the Wellcome Collection and in the Japon exhibition at Collection d l’Art Brut in Lausanne in 2008/09, with Sawada’s work also appearing in the recent BBC Imagine documentary and at the 2013 Venice Biennale. Both Pape and Waldren’s work featured in Outside In: National in 2012 at Pallant House Gallery. Waldren’s was also displayed in the 2009 Outside In exhibition and is represented in the collections at Pallant House Gallery and the Museum of Everything.
Mizue Kobayashi, Art Director of the Social Welfare Organisation Aiseikai says: “I strongly believe that this work will continue to shine through and inspire awe, strength, and belief in the boundless reach and essence of the human imagination and the urge to create.”