Wednesday, April 20, 2005
50th issue of Raw Vision
19 April 2005
by Susannah Tarbush
The magazine Raw Vision celebrated the launch of its 50th issue a few evenings ago with a party in a marquee at the Serpentine Gallery in London’s Kensington Gardens. The weather was stormy, with lightning and hail visible through the marquee’s transparent walls, but this somehow suited Raw Vision, which is devoted to the “Outsider Art” movement known also as “Art Brut”, “Visionary Art” and “Contemporary Folk Art.”
The party also marked the launch of American writer Rich Shapero’s novel “Wild Animus”, published by Too Far. The novel tells of a man’s adventures finding himself in the wilds of Alaska.
Raw Vision is edited by John Maizels, who recalls in the 50th issue how, when he and his colleagues published the first edition of just 1,000 copies in 1989, they had little idea that it would still be going after all these years, nor that what was then “an almost secret, covert art” would become so well known and supported.
Maizels points out that during the life of Raw Vision, important specialist museums and collections of Outsider Art have been established in the US and across Europe, and only Britain stands out as “a sad exception to this”.
One has only to glance at the pages of Raw Vision to see that Outsider Art has become a lucrative business. There are numerous full-page advertisements for galleries and exhibitions in different countries.
The content of Raw Vision shows the extent to which Outsider Art is an international movement. The 50th issue has news of the 80th birthday of Nek Chand, the creator and director of the remarkable Rock Garden of Chandigarh, India, with its thousands of sculptures of animals and people made from materials such as porcelain, concrete and stone.
The issue also has an interview with Anna Yarkina, deputy director of the Moscow Museum of Outsider Art. The museum was founded by a retired railway worker, Alexei Ivanovich Rudov, who was advised by his doctor to take up creative expression to improve his health, and started to make sculptures from branches, wood and tree mushrooms.
Another outsider artist, Ukrainian Dmytro Szylak, has built “Hamtramck Disneyland” in Detroit, assembled from toys and other items, which Raw Vision describes as “one man’s personal magical kingdom.”
Outsider Art has a wide definition, and the article Criminal Skins reveals the elaborate, coded world of tattoos sported by Russian criminals.
Maizels says: “Outside Art has proved to anyone with an open mind and open eyes that contemporary art does not have to be unimaginative or derivative, meaningless or boring. Outsider Art shows that art can have deeply personal meaning, be bold and truthful, exciting and moving; that it can be visionary and awe-inspiring.”