Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Unconsciously making great art

I always love it when discovering an artist takes me down the rabbit hole and suddenly i'm learning a whole bunch of stuff i didn't mean to.

Casey McGlyn, Early Influences, mixed media on canvas, 30 x 24
Case in point- Casey McGlyn. It's no surprise that i would be drawn to his work - not only does it have horses but McGlyn's work reminded me of the art i grew up with - and there is something incredible comforting in that. My stepfather collects American naive art. He is particularly fond of a series of work from the resident of a psychiatric ward which he owns.  McGlyn's work has that edge to it for me. That feeling of that he is absolutely brilliant and might very well be completely unhinged. There is an undeniable  darkness to his work but it feels honest - almost innocent.
Casey McGlyn, House on Ricky Lake, mixed media, 60 x72

McGlyn's work also set my Art History 101 alarm off.  A rummage of my book shelf rewarded me a write up of this piece by Karel Appel.

Karl Appel, Hip Hip Hooray, oil on canvas, 1949

Appel was part of a the CoBrA movement (Copenhagen, Brussels Amsterdam - the cities where the movement's key members were based).  The Cobra movement was founded in 1948 by a group  of painters (Appel among them) who believed in the strength of  instinct over reason. Their working method was based on spontaneity and experiment, and they drew their inspiration in particular from children’s drawings, from primitive art forms. (1)

Suddenly my stepfather's fascination with the art of a psychiatric patient makes more sense. What could be more honest than the artist expression of a mind unhindered by the filters of societal constructs and norms- that child like perspective of what one sees rather than what one is "suppose" to see.

When i look at Casey McGlyn's work i get the feeling that he woke up from a dream and felt the need to capture the images from his head. His childhood home mixes with dinosaurs wrestling and UFOs- and freed from the task of having to "figure out what the paiting is suppose to be," i as the audience and free to react emotionally to the piece.

 (1)MOMA online http://moma.org/collection/details.php?theme_id=10954&displayall=1

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