How do I talk about 'In The Realm of Others' that is currently showing at The De La Warr? To discuss the makers works in the context of 'outsider art' seems like a disservice, yet the title alludes to the exhibitors not being formally trained in art with a subtle honesty that provides a gentle reminder. Although the exhibition does not explicitly call the participants 'artists' these makers have very little difference to those of us with the education, the degrees, and the exhibitions under our belts.
I've read a couple of other reviews of the show, articles that mention that these works have no labelled meaning or intent that you'd normally expect in a white cube, there is just a connection to the makers. This connection to the artist can and is, often, easily lost in the elitism and market of contemporary art.
In The Realm of Others is an exhibition of artworks and a recreation of their studio at Project Artworks; a service that opens up lines of communication with those who struggle to verbalise and communicate. When viewing the exhibition there are parallels to be drawn with certain art movements, such as the action painting of the swinging sixties, live art and it's insights, arte povera. It sits well in the De La Warr.
This exhibition shows the makers exploring the things that are important to them, things that they are obsessed by, which is similar to many contemporary artists including Hans-Peter Feldmann, whose artistic works remind us that curiosity is a basic, exciting impulse for everyone. In The Realm of Others is entrenched with curiosity. Although those showing artworks may not have the art history education, there is an awareness of space, colour, line and shape. There is order where order should be juxtaposed with free-flowing expression, it's beautiful.
The show is a window, through the artworks on show as part of 'In The Realm Of Others' we are able to see how we have treated those less able than ourselves. A familiar house motive arrises in one gentleman's work, which is unsurprising when the gentleman grew up in institutions. It's no wonder that he has a preoccupation with the child-like image of a house (a door, two windows, a steeped roof and a chimney). The paintings speak of innocence, but also a confusion, this is the image shown to children, this is a house, except homes don't always look like that, do they? I am reminded of the lies we tell children and the attempt to hide them from a big secret, when in reality, there is no big secret.
I could continue this with every piece of work, with each of the makers, and draw half-baked conclusions, I can wax lyrical and provide guesses on meanings and intent, but I won't anymore. They are only guesses, they are only my mind making sense of what I am seeing, as much as this is a window, it's also a mirror, reflecting back how I see the world through how those who created the art see the world.
There is a discontent, and 'In The Realm Of Others' becomes an apt title, because as much as I wax-lyrical I won't get it, because I am not them. We each are often trapped in our own minds, in our own worlds, but if we can create something beautiful, inspiring and thought-provoking as this show, then it can't all be bad.
The De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill
26th September - 29th November