Until now, the notion of abstract Art Brut amounted, at best, to an oxymoron, and at worst, to antinomy. Now, should we allow ourselves to look at the works, rather than blindly allowing the exclusions that Jean Dubuffet based his theory on, we must accept the evidence: in numerous ways, many works of Art Brut escape the figuration to which we thought we could limit this domain.
Already in 1922, the psychiatrist Hans Prinzhorn preferred his patients’ works which revealed “a more ‘pure’ state inasmuch as the gesture that created them wouldn’t be subject to the interferences of cultural conditioning and artistic skill”, as Raphael Koenig points out in the text of our catalogue, to the ones that were much too narrative.
Dubuffet, in putting together his conception of Art Brut, notably in opposition to the abstract art that was popular in his day – at most, he would accept the seismography of spiritualists – probably didn’t see to what extent non-figurative Art Brut widened his quest for essentialness considerably.
Thus, abstract Art Brut, according to the profound movement from which it comes, takes the most diverse forms: there is the compulsive and gestural form of one Baker or one Bonnelalbay; that other one where sibylline cosmologies stretch out, as in the work of Kemp or Way; the one where psychic cartographies are traced out, dear to Salen and Košek; the cryptographic and symbolic form of one Devlin and one Gaitán ; also the one that is the fruit of psychic trances experienced by Lonné or Zéphir; yet another whose volumes transfigure the materials that compose them, as in Bellucci and Tassini’s work; not to mention the geometric abstraction of one Moser or one Brizuela, and so many others. As many forms of expression whose eloquence and intensity echo Rimbaud in A Season in Hell : “I used to write down silences and nights, I made note of the indescribable. I captured dizzy spells”.
Preface : Raphaël Koenig
Foreword : Christian Berst
Catalog published to mark the exhibition In abstracto, from June 8th to July 15th, 2017.