Should art glorify-and be accessible to-ordinary people? UK-based artist Piers Midwinter firmly says yes. "Anyone is capable of producing a pure work of art-but to do so, they must stay true to themselves. And what is the self? It is where each and every one of us tries to be as human as possible-to be, as the Buddhists believe, the best we can be in a civilized manner."
Midwinter, creator of http://www.RawArtLink.com, is a fan of art-for-the-common-person guru Jean Dubuffet. Dubuffet, Midwinter says, "argued that trained artists were influenced by cultural expectations, etc. Therefore, any art created would be tainted. He sought artists that were either totally outside the system or did not care for it; their art was purer. Unlike Picasso and Dali who were telling the world how great they were, he told the world how great a highly marginalized sector of society was."
Many famous Surrealists and modern/postmodern artists were influenced by Raw Art, Midwinter says. "Picasso collected art by Outsider artist Scottie Wilson. Klee wanted to paint as if he were new-born. He introduced Dubuffet to the 'Art of the Insane.' But many of them did not go out of their way to give any credit! I want to put things straight. I want to extend Dubuffet's ideas and apply them to people at a grassroots or community level."
Dubuffet's collection of "Art Brut" ("brutal art") is now on display in a museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. And Midwinter's site, paying homage to Dubuffet and other Surrealists, offers over 100 links to sites featuring Outsider, Surrealist, and post-modern artists-including many sites from other counties and other languages.
To Midwinter, Raw Art is unrefined, done quickly, unashamed of its flaws. It doesn't have to be polished to perfection.
"Raw art shows more of the process, and is therefore more honest. when I'm painting, I work very quickly; I try not to think too much."
Midwinter's process is "based on 'Automatic Writing'-where an artist 'lets a pen go for a walk.' You start with a mess, but at some point, you begin to 'see' something-a face, a leg-and you bring that into focus. I applied the idea to paint.
"I start with an element. With this, it becomes easier to construct other elements that suit the logic of the picture. It involves balancing lines, shapes, colors, rhuythms, etc. The process of thinking is the important part, just go with the flow and keep it going! Sometimes it's scary, spiritual, depressing, happy… each picture is interesting because it captures a different facet of the soul."
Midwinter gets flustered when told his art is beautiful. "I don't quite know how to react."
Yet, his paintings, whether oil or watercolor, show a definite attention to craft-something which he is willing to acknowledge in spite of his philosophical tilt toward 'first drafts.' "I will look at a picture and try to keep it balanced at all times. Adding color in one place affects the overall composition-so something may need to counterbalance it."
Midwinter's art features vivid colors, humanoid and animal shapes, and images clearly inspired by mythology, literature, and the quirks of our modern world. He is not afraid to be deeply political, but also quite willing to explore the whimsical side. Many of his paintings are on display in the Gallery page at http://www.rawartlink.com/html/PiersMidwinter/art.html, as well as in various private collections in several European countries.
Even if he's a bit uncomfortable with the idea, his paintings ARE beautiful. He has won the Ede and Ravenscroft Prize and various other awards and prizes, has been the subject of several profiles in various print and Internet art journals, and has taught art to both mainstream and special needs students. In fact, he was recognized for outstanding achievements in organizing three highly successful exhibitions of work by artists with autism.
And what made him set up a portal for Raw Art and Surrealism? While teaching art and information technology in a secondary school "I began to realize that I was in a good position to create something. I had acquired a lot of knowledge about institutions I liked; if I organized it into relevant groupings, I could effectively create a useful portal that aided people just like me. I wanted to exhibit my art and network with other like-minded souls-and the more useful my web-site is, the greater the probability that I will achieve my ends.
"So the homepage is designed to be fun and hopefully encourage people to use it. The Public links and Artists links pages are designed to be quick, useful references that try to summarize the vital information."
For more on Raw Art and Midwinter's own work, please visit his site at ttp://www.RawArtLink.com.
Shel Horowitz, Editor of Global Travel Review and owner of FrugalFun.com, is the author of the e-book, The Penny-Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook, and the creator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign.
For more on Raw Art and Midwinter's own work, please visit his site at http://www.RawArtLink.com. [Note: a version of this article with several of Midwinter's paintings is currently featured on the British art site, Art Magazine UK. There is a "more" button, but it's way over on the right; if you have a small monitor, you'll have to scroll.
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