The art that doesn’t know its name

/ 1 June, 2018

(…) “We do not ever see things as they are, we see them as we are” (Anaïs Nin): a human figure repeated dozens of times, and then photographs containing signs of violence, and attached to them objects found in public trash deposits. If these productions lend themselves to a semiotic analysis, there would surely be coincidental allusions to pop in the first case, or to Dadaism in the second case; however, any academic approach would be misguided if it didn’t question before the fact who the artist is, their intentions, and the discourse which they project. Therefore, the first and very important question lies in that these records write their story about psychological disorders, which replaces all interpretative formulas for decodifying—if intended—their creative universe; and yet this condition is not a total determinant for the final result of their work, constituting a palliative to consciously define an ideoaesthetic intent –although it constitutes a visual order, and an artistic problem—evidently raised in an external reading.

For this type of creation, which mostly arises in situations of marginality, of academies and the art market, researchers have assumed the term outsider (those from outside), coined by Roger Cardinal in 1972, a concept—according to Graciela García— “slippery and uncomfortable but (…) unifying,” which can be used in the systematization of this practice, overcoming the limits per se of all terminological innovation. This and similar things such as psychopathological painting, visionary art and outsider art, among others, include as a fundamental platform the definitions realized for Art Brut by the French artist Jean Dubuffet, who in 1949 understood the phenomenon as “an operation completely pure, unrefined, raw and totally reinvented in every one of their phrases through the only means that are themselves the artists’ own impulses”; criterion as naive and generalized as his idea of cultural non-contamination of these constructs, when an isolated condition or a disease may not necessarily significantly affect the relationship of the individual with the external environment and, consequently, the cultural. In any case—and in these poetics even more—the action of putting rhetoric and cultural heritage before sensitivity could only fill with arrogance the activity of the critic outsider to become a real intruder, with a look that is totally and ironically that of an outsider.

From her first years of life, Misleidys Castillo exhibited cerebral problems and autism spectrum disorders, which have affected her socialization, communication and emotional engagement. (…) Within her dare I say cataloged repertoire, one’s attention is drawn to the reiteration of human figures of chunky appearance, which borders on the anatomy of body builders, represented with some resemblance to the profile canon used by the Egyptians and with contours marked and marked again: all a methodology that appeals to repetitive conduct, typical of her pathology.

(…) While Misleidys creates her codes from certain introspective and cryptic characters, Jorge Alberto Hernández Cadi (The Diver), in order to dialogue with the rational world, undertakes his search on the outskirts of his intimate environment to subvert his own reality, which has been fragmented by an emotional and perceptive split, characteristic of his pathological schizophrenia. Hence, The Diver, found in the most inhospitable places, where the perfect world sheds its waste, objects that then become his work, unconsciously very close to the ready-made Duchampians.

(…) Both artists project in a language of free expression, with approaches capable of being read as much for their space of understanding and a particular assimilation of reality as for contemporary art codes. Since from the inside it is not known and not made aware of, any term that reunites this “gestaltung” is positive: “the discredit of our scientific system has made us credulous” (Lyle Rexer).

Claudia Taboada Churchman

Claudia Taboada Churchman

Havana, 1990. Art critic and curator. She currently works in Villa Manuela Gallery. Her texts have been published in ArteCubano, Revolución y Cultura, La Jiribilla, Noticias de ArteCubano, among others. In 2015 she received the Curatorial Award granted by the Center for the Development of Visual Arts for the project Pintura expandida.

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