First published: Winter 2010
Joël Lorand belongs to a category of sophisticated, untrained artists who, like Michel Nedjar, Chris Hipkiss, François Burland and others, are no longer beyond recognition, seem well informed on art and consider themselves artists. However, they are still very attached to Art Brut people and feel much more at ease in the company of self-taught creators than with professionally-trained artists from the mainstream.
Why then are they still referred to as Outsiders? There are two reasons. Firstly, because their art is self-taught and follows a non-professional curriculum. They have had to develop their skills individually without guidance from an art school, so they pursue their artistic careers as loners, outside the circles of ‘contemporary art’. Their second link to Art Brut is, however, more essential: it is the overwhelming urge to create that forces them to sacrifice everything else. Herein lies an unexpected paradox.
While the majority of the much-publicised ‘contemporary’ artists on the market often describe themselves as working ‘on’ themes such as social identity, gender, mass culture symbols and death rituals, these other artists ‘work in’. While the former tend to remain outside their subject, dealing with it in an intellectual or conceptual manner, these untrained artists have an organic relationship towards art-making that corresponds to a vital need, a matter of personal balance and identity.
If this is the case, should we not then reverse the categories and consider the trained, contemporary artist as the true outsider, rather than the obsessive one who cannot escape from his creative destiny and has to remain inside his unceasing anguishes and obsessions? No doubt all true creators, trained or otherwise, are like that: insiders, maniacally involved in a relentless creative process that drains their brains.