Souzou: Outsider Art From Japan

Souzu: Outsider Art From Japan

28 March – 30 June

Wellcome Collection – London

A new challenge for art curators and spectators:  the spring Wellcome Collection exhibition shows art works from people with disabilities. A unique collection created by 46 Japanese artists living in social welfare facilities.

Souzu is a Japanese word which means creation and imagination at the same time. Both meanings allude to a ‘force’  by which new ideas are born and take shape in the world

The exhibition brings together different art works such as drawings, ceramics and textiles to demonstrate that disability could be a huge incentive  for creativity.The aim is to explore the process of making through different six sections which are: Language, Making, Representation, Relationships, Culture, Possibilities. 

The Language section explores the artists’ ability to convey their thoughts and feelings by visual art, as verbal and written communication is challenging or impossible for them. Works range from Takanori Herai’s diary with black and white hieroglyphics to Toshiko Yamanishi’s multi coloured love letters for his mother, in which she expresses her love with bright polychromes.

Making part of the exhibition is characterized by massive use of unconventional materials. From Komei Bekki ceramic art works to the army of little soldiers created by Shota Katsube and styled out of the twist-ties used to fasten food.

The subjects in Representation section are taken from artists’ daily life. M. K. drawings on cardboards are irreverent mockeries of advertising billboards with, for example, naked models while Satoshi Nishikawa creates huge fruits aggregating small ceramic rabbits.

Relationships is the section dedicated to the people loved by the artists. Here the spectator can admire Sakiko Kono’s cotton dolls, representing staff and friends who have been kind to her in the residential facility and Masao Obata’s red drawings on cardboard, representing beautiful and naked women.

In Culture  artists take inspiration for pop culture. In fact in this section bright movies’ posters and paper cartoon figurines are displayed. Ryosuke Otsuji ceramic Okinawan Lions are appreciable because in popular Japanese culture they are thought to ward off  bad spirits.

Last part of the exhibition is dedicated to Possibilities area, a place in which the visitor will find Norimitsu Kokubo’s fictional cityscapes, Shingo Ikeda’s calculation of his journeys on Tokyo subway and Shinichi Sawada’s ceramic sea-monsters and mythical demons.

In the last room of the exhibition several screens in which the spectator can admire brief interviews with some of the artists of the exhibition.

Don’t miss the chance to explore different abilities and endless resources of these unconventional artists.

Take a glance at the video to see most relevant art works displayed…

(Images courtesy of Wellcome Collection Press Office).
 

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