Art Brut is not about brutal art. It is a translation of a phrase outsider art, with other alterations such as raw art or rough art. But, what is it really about? Art Brut is all about admitting that art is not created only within academia, that artist don’t have to specialized in art schools, that art is not only what we see in famous museums and galleries. Art Brut is simply admitting the fact that at each moment, almost on every tiny spot in the world there is someone producing what we can call art, weather he is entitled to do so or not. So, Art Brut movements and institutions are usually all about finding those authors who are producing their art outside of the art system, not thinking about putting their works into public. When we are talking about Art Brut we are actually talking about marginalized authors that include women, children, mentally challenged, old people, prisoners or other groups who are not easily recognized as artist. Nevertheless, their art is what more and more attracts art lovers from all over the world. It is sincere, it is rough, it raw, but it is alive. And the strength of this kind of artworks is what has already inspired opening of several museums dedicated to Art Brut or outsider art, Gugging Museum in Vienna and Halle Saint Pierre in Paris being just two among them.
So it is very encouraging to know that this year’s Art Dubai presented the production of Mawaheb Art Studio, which is a non-profit organization working with adults with special needs. Their work in the studio is all about expressing themselves through the creative arts. As a result of their practice, an exhibition was organized, as well as numerous workshops which was part of the interactive program of the festival. One of the Mawaheb Studio’s stars is definitively Victor Sitali. His is a young artist coming from Zambia, now at the age of 26, who lost his speech and hearing when he was only 3 years old. His uses art to represent the idea that the power of art could be a universal language. At the festival he was hosting various workshops, such as live speed-painting, a method of creating paintings just in seven minutes.
Art practices like this are proving that art can be done and experienced outside of the closed system of art education, production and presentation and that it has no limits. The fact that art festivals and institutions previously reserved for “high art” are hosting outsiders is announcing better future not just for those artists, but for the contemporary art itself.