The contributions of artists who sit outside the traditional cultural framework of the art world often go unnoted; the concepts of self-taught and outsider art still provoke uncertainty, questioning the legitimacy of art and artistic behaviour.
Charles Russell’s insightful study of 12 significant self-taught and outsider artists in Groundwater explores the responses of these artists to culture and highlights their influence. The title refers to the idea that art may come from many sources, and the artists in Russell’s book all utilise different, often unconscious, creative processes. Many of the artists featured suffered mental illness, whilst some practiced as mediums. All were untrained and Russell suggests that an authentic creativity is at the heart of their work.
Groundwaters is a fascinating read, but it is often tinged with sadness: many of the artists’ works express loneliness or indulge in fantasy. A comprehensive insight, which forces a reconsideration of our definitions of “art” and “artist”.