Wednesday, September 16, 2009

So humbled today

"About a week ago I dropped in on Stefan Maguran. He lives in a house with walls covered in canvases. Different sizes and styles. I sit down and a huge monkey looks back at me with melancholy of glowing eyes. The picture must be bigger than a square metre. "Did you paint that Stefan?" I ask, he replies "Yes it took me about half an hour, it was one the early ones I did".Early ones means about two years ago. I dont know how old he is and I dont want to guess but he is old enough to be my father and they both drive pretty much the same cars. He started painting two years ago. I diont know quite how readical a shift that was. Did he do little drawing through out his life or think about it? Appently it started as gifts for his daughters wedding and it didnt stop.He was an elecrical engineer and he could have designed something in your fuse-box. The radical turn around and recent uptake, quite prolific too, of art practice has given him a zeal of a teenage art student.A passion and ideological relentlessnes that is usually burnt out by this point. Breaking free from structured blue-prints into dripping and pouring paint.The rational electrical design background mixed with spontanious brush stabbbing insticts is unique. The mid-life conversion to painting has created an outsiderwho wants to break in through the back door with a crow-bar. He will jimmee the lock and drag in his canvases weather the owners like it or not.Covering his walls is a collection of his own work but others too. He surounds himself with works by other people, originals not prints, to form a stimulating environment from any angle. The Outsider festival is his latest baby. A project that will last a month and involve many interesting create forces in South Australia and elsewhere even tracking down work from oversees. Surrounding himself with creativity is what makes him feel most alive. He loves to practice art but is also very interesting in others creativity.Its almost as if someone has said "You cant make a festival!" and he is relentlessly proving them wrong . Multi-platform ranging from music, video, painting and more to be announced, Stefan is forging his own reality. To take up art practice all of a sudden and jump ahead with an Outsider art festival only two years later is quite inspiring."

Mike Retter

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A very humble thank you

A sincere and humble thank you to all of you who, through donations (in money and paintings), registration to the Outsiders Festival, continuous and kind support, are contributing to a cause that it is very dear to me.
As you all know, I am planning to have a gallery dedicated to Outsider Art and your donations will go towards establishing that gallery.
My gallery is open to anyone who wishes to be part of it.
The gallery will be in a house we own on Anzac Highway, close to the Highway Inn, a place that is undergoing a major development in the near future.
The Greenhill galleries have open a gallery at the Highway Inn, very convenient and extremely favourable for us.
At present there are a few things to be sorted out, and this year, only the Rumpus Gallery is functional (that is, an independent portable house at the back of the property).
During the Outsiders Festival it will be used to present any objectionable material (non-family friendly - if you wish).
Essentially I intend to have there a hub where there will be plenty of activity, not just a gallery that will be open a few days a week, with three weeks shows that rarely (apart from the opening) someone visits.
I believe in diversity and I believe that because of the extremely poor position of the artist in the mainstream, any art should be encouraged, especially art that comes from people who make art for the love of it.
I have embraced the Outsiders idea exactly for this reason. I believe that Outsider art is more genuine than most of the stuff that "respectable" galleries have on display.
So, therefore, if you have any pieces that you wish to present, I am very happy to put them on display - I do not have any selection criteria.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bits'n pieces about the Outsiders Festival - 1-30 November 2009 - Adelaide

I started working on the Outsiders Festival idea because of the frustration I found everywhere in trying to find venues for the SALA show in 2008. I realised then how many people are making art with love and passion, mostly for themselves. Since then, a lot of things have happened. One was that I started hosting the Outsiders group on Redbubble, as the cheapest option to host images from potential interested parties. The group now has more than 400 members and an unmanageable number of images, it includes established artists, trained and untrained artists, disabled artists and outdoor photographers. At the same time I had a very negative reaction from the arts fraternity in Australia about the name of what I was trying to do. I've asked repeatedly Redbubble to allow me to change the name of the group to Visionary, or to register a Visionary group, but it was all too hard to them. So I got stuck with the name. I am a person that rarely gives up (most of the time I had to be fired to leave) so I took the cross and went further. I am now less than two months before the event that I have publicised as much as I could from my almost non-existent income and it is way too late to change the name.But what's in a name?As I said somewhere else, replying to this comment: "I just don't think that I personally could contribute enough to society by being an artist." This is where I belive we are all making a mistake. We have an obligation to change the way society sees artists, especially now that manufacturing has moved elsewhere. Yes, sport is important, yes TV is important, but it is totally unacceptable for the human beings to be so de-humanised as to ignore the wonders of the human brain. Accept it or not, we are all outsiders and it's time to stand up and fight for our rightful place in society. It is symbolic that the war is fought by an unemployed immigrant outsider, but I trust that in the end there will be light. What is sometimes disheartening is that fellow artists keep trying to denigrate our efforts. We might not be doing everything right and we would love some help rather than just being ridiculed or ignored. Regarding the understanding of the word outsider (“'outsider' art by definition is art that is created without formal training, with disregard to it's commercial potential and for the sake of the activity itself.” – as someone said once) - I agree that is one definition. In this day and age it is though very hard to stay between those boundaries. Take Jungle Philips for example. In theory he is an outsider, but if we take the above understanding of the term, he is not, as he is actively promoting his work starting from his colourful fence to his facebook presence. Not to mention that this year he has obtained a grant to help his practice. Strictly speaking, an Outsiders Festival using this definition cannot exist, as the people who could take part, once taking part would automatically be disqualified.