After the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland held the ‘Japon’ exhibit in 2008 and 2009, Japanese art brut gained further exposure in Europe in 2010 and 2011 through the ‘Art Brut Japonais’ exhibit at the Halle Saint-Pierre in Paris. Boasting more than 120,000 visitors, these two exhibits were instrumental in raising the profile of Japanese art brut in Europe.
Extensive meetings and discussions were held between the Het Dolhuys National Museum of Psychiatry in the Netherlands with our team in Japan, and with much support and interest from numerous museums across Europe, this touring exhibit of Europe took shape.
In order to select the works for this exhibition, Director of Het Dolhuys, Hans Looijen travelled to Japan in October, 2011 to visit the workshops and ateliers which the artists attend as well as the borderless art museum NO-MA, located in Shiga prefecture. His visit to Japan further sparked his enthusiasm for the art and he eagerly selected pieces for the touring exhibit.
Approximately 850 pieces by forty six artists were selected(currently scheduled for seven exhibitions across the continent), and they began their tour of Europe at the Het Dolhuys museum in April, 2012.
We believe that through increasing the exposure of art works created by persons with disabilities and psychiatric disorders, society will begin to recognize that ‘talent’ is latent in all human beings. We believe that this will enrich society and deepen understanding and respect of ‘the other’ through experiential learning.
These works are beginning to garner critical praise from the art world as well. Through gaining exposure, new bridges connecting individuals and groups of people are being built. We strongly believe that giving shape to the new artistic culture of art brut will contribute to the empowerment of persons with disabilities.
We also believe that the touring exhibit of Europe is a unique opportunity for the people of Europe to experience and enjoy these artistic wonders from Japan. Through gaining recognition and popularity in Europe, art brut will become widely accepted within Japan as the artistic and cultural treasures that they are.
PREPARING THE WORKS FOR EXHIBITION
In early January 2012, thanks to the kind cooperation of the artists, their families and friends, the approximately 850 pieces of work destined for the touring exhibit of Europe was collected from all corners of Japan and arrived at the Japan office of the exhibition located in the district of Nakano, Tokyo. Each piece was meticulously checked for any signs of damage or wear and tear, and this information was collated into a document to be used for the management of these pieces. Photographs of the art works were taken too, for the use in creating illustrated booklets for our partner museums in Europe who will be hosting the exhibition. Each piece was then packaged with great care utilizing fine art packaging techniques for their long journey to Europe.
(We would like to express our thanks to the Nakano district local authorities for allowing us the use of the former Nakano Sixth Junior High School for storage of the art works.)
RECORDING AND DOCUMENTING PIECES
FINE ART PACKING
PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF THE ARTISTS
One point we must keep in mind is that due to the fact that the artists who produced these works are diagnosed with developmental or psychiatric disorders, in the eyes of the Japanese law they are deemed ‘lacking’ in their own capacities of judgment or cognition, thereby meaning claiming copyright over their own creations may be a legal challenge. Faced with this situation, we represent the artists and protect copyright of their work through the ‘Adult Guardianship’ legislation in Japan (which means representation on behalf of an individual by next of kin, ‘guarantor’ or ‘assistant’) whilst always keeping the artists will and personal wishes in mind regarding exhibiting the works and reproducing the images.
There are now increasing opportunities for art brut to be exhibited. As the value of the works start to be recognized by the art market, we anticipate that many issues surrounding the protection of the artists rights over their works will surface. Protection and advocacy of the artists’ rights and the creation of a society which provides a framework of legal protection for all persons is a key component of our activities.
THE TOURING EXHIBIT OF EUROPE ‘PRE-EXHIBITION’ IN JAPAN
As a preliminary event to the touring exhibit of Europe, part of the works were exhibited here in Japan between February 3rd and 5th, 2012 at the ‘Amenity Forum’ national conference on social welfare held at Shiga prefecture. The ‘Amenity Forum’ is a domestic initiative to raise awareness related to social welfare and to stimulate related activities and businesses. The three day exhibit there had more than 1,500 visitors.
In order to disseminate information of our activities to the public in Japan, we publish newsletters, as well as constantly updating our website and facebook pages.
We will update this website with the latest images from our European exhibitions, as well as introductions to the contributing artists and the latest developments in order to keep our followers updated!
Our newsletters include reports from each of the exhibits in Europe along with comments and writings from specialists in the field of art brut.
The touring exhibit of Europe is composed of 853 pieces of work by 46 artists from across thirteen cities and regions in Japan. The exhibiting museums have the freedom to curate the exhibition in accordance with their own exhibition space and/or themes, using these 853 pieces.
WHAT IS ART BRUT?
The French term ‘Art Brut’ was coined in 1945 by the French artist Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) relating to his theory of a ‘raw’ art which was ‘unprocessed’, ‘uncooked’ or ‘uncontaminated’ by culture. This is a term which encompasses works of art created spontaneously by persons with no formal artistic training, and with very little consideration given to what is ‘in vogue’ in the art world at the time. Many practitioners of art brut include individuals with intellectual disabilities as well as psychiatric disorders, and attention on this genre is increasing glpobally as a field in which to explore the universality and potential of all human expression.