Why did you decide to focus this year’s Prize on artists who may be said to belong to the Art Brut or Outsider Art movement?
It’s not simply a passing fancy. We have been looking at these artists who cultivate a sense of drawing, of line, and a need to communicate their vision of the world in a totally unique manner for a long time. Moreover, we have already purchased pieces by Luboš Plný, who works with absolute precision and rigour, questioning his relationship with language and the human body. This merges with our passion for drawing representing a primal gesture, completely magnified by these artists. It is often their principal means of expression, devoid of filters, and one may consider that the same intensity emanated from the art of prehistoric men. Likewise, through their obsessive, compulsive character, the three nominees bear witness to a rare sensibility. .
How did you come to choose Pascal Leyder, Mehrdad Rashidi and Melvin Way, this year’s three nominees?
As in the past, the members of our selection committee chose them, aided by their numerous conversations with Bruno Decharme, who has collected Outside Art for several decades. We then went to La “S” Grand Atelier, near Liège, an Art Brut centre that generously helps these creators. Thus, as usual, we visited studios, researched both the artists and the works, of which everyone gave their impressions.
Could one say that it was ultimately a decision based on aesthetics and form?
Even if we are naturally interested in personal histories, what appealed to us most were the actual drawings… Pascal Leyder’s ports invite us on a journey and take us to Venice or to the age of 18th-century prints, while Mehrdad Rashidi constucts fascinating characters, linked to natural elements, on extremely varied supports. His inspiration may be seen to come from Persian miniatures. As for Melvin Way, his work on maps and small formats leads us towards a quasi-computerised, dehumanised world. It’s very perceptive.
Won’t it be even harder to judge and decide between these artists?
This edition of our Drawing Prize will notably affect everyone’s sensibilities. Since our jury includes two collectors of Outsider Art as well as two psychiatrists, the debates promise to be intense! But we genuinely come back to the work itself and what is represented, that is to say to the very essence of the drawing. That also brings us back to the feeling we experience on discovering an artist whom we do not know, yet who may instantly take our breath away, without any preconceptions! !
Interview Marie Maertens
16° Drawing Prize Daniel & Florence Guerlain Contemporary Art Foundation
Belgium artist, born in 1988 in Bastogne. He first attended La “S”
Grand Atelier, in Vielsalm (Belgium) in 2008 and today works in its studio on a regular basis. He collaborated on the “Choolers Noise Project”, drawing live on stage accompanied by Outsider music.
His works are now in the collections of the Lam (Villeneuved’Ascq), the Museum Docteur Guislain (Ghent), the Museum of Everything (London), the Musée des Arts modestes (Sète), abcd (Montreuil) and the Bruno Decharme Donation at the Mnam-Centre Pompidou, Paris. His drawings frequently appear in collective comics and graphic magazines published, for example, by Le Dernier Cri and Frémok.
Iranian artist , born in Sari in 1963. He left his native country at the age of 20. He travelled through Pakistan and Afghanistan, before reaching Russia, where he studied journalism. He settled in Germany in 2006, and now lives and works near Düsseldorf. Although he practised it as a child, he only began drawing again in 2006. In 2013, he won the Grand Prix Award for Marginal Art at the 16th Belgrade Biennale of Naïve and Marginal Art and took part in the 3rd Jagodina Triennale (Serbia).
His works are now found in the Collection of Art Brut (Lausanne) and the Bruno Decharme Donation at the Mnam-Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Represented by the Henry Boxer Gallery (Richmond, UK).
American artist, born in South Carolina in 1954. Entrusted to a relative, he was raised in Brooklyn, where he attended the Technical Career Institute, but left before finishing his course of studies. After a chaotic interlude, he began drawing in the late 1980s. He still lives in Brooklyn.
Son oeuvre fait partie des collections du MoMA (New York) et du Smithsonian (Washington), mais aussi de la collection abcd (Montreuil), de la Collection de l’Art brut (Lausanne), de l’American Visionary Art Museum (Baltimore), de la Collection Treger Saint Silvestre (Porto) ainsi que de la donation Bruno Decharme au Mnam-Centre Pompidou (Paris).
His works are now in the collections of MoMA (New York), the Smithsonian (Washington), abcd (Montreuil), the Collection de l’Art Brut (Lausanne), the American Visionary Art Museum (Baltimore), Treger-Saint Silvestre (Porto), as well as being part of the Bruno Decharme Donation at the Mnam-Centre Pompidou (Paris).
Represented by the Andrew Edlin Gallery (New York) and the Galerie Christian Berst (Paris).