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Remix Gallery Collective: Karine Giboulo, Claude Bolduc,

Terry Graff, Norman Barney, and Laurie Langford

Inaugural Exhibition/Pop-Up Gallery

September 29, 2018

at the Remix Gallery,

Petrolia, Ontario

Stepping into artist Norman Barney’s Petrolia studio on Sept. 29 was a bit like stepping into another dimension.

"Colourful, creative and controversial pieces of art – made mostly from recycled materials – lined the walls of Barney’s converted garage studio, with pieces ranging from delightfully disfigured children’s toys to a selection of stuffed Smurfs surrounding a simulated, felt Cathedral stained-glass window, to the image of a mutilated, mechanical toy bird sitting serenely in front of a violent backdrop.

The pieces were created by a group of artists from across Canada who have come together to celebrate their genre – modest yet growing genre known as Outsider Art. It’s sophisticated, highly political art created by those with little or no formal training, using only found and recycled materials.

“Outsider Art actually started in France,” Barney said. “Outsider Artists were typically religious and untrained artists who made things from whatever scrap material was laying around. And it grew over the years in places all over the world.

“Back in the Eighties, for example, Robert Rauschenberg, who I consider to be an Outsider Artist, went to Cuba and Castro gave him access to all art galleries in Havana, and he had this major influence on Cuban art,” Barney continued. “(Rauschenberg) showed these Cuban artists how to use found objects because artists there didn’t have painting materials to work with due to the U.S. blockade.”

Even though Outsider Art has become increasingly popular in places like Europe and the United States over the past several decades, in Canada Outsider artists still remain on the periphery of the art world, Barney said.

“The thing is that private galleries in Canada are behind the times,” he said. “They don’t understand just how important Outsider Art is.”

With that in mind, Barney and a group of fellow Outsider artists decided to do something themselves in order to showcase their one-of-a-kind works and raise awareness about their underrepresented type of art.

“Nobody represents people that do Outsider Art in Canada, so we just thought we’d make a collective,” Barney said. “We met over Facebook and we created the Remix Gallery Collective.”

“So with the collective we gathered all these artists, and they’re all really great artists but what we have in common is that we’re more or less political. And I don’t think private galleries in Canada want to touch our art,” he continued. “So we as a collective decided that we are going to have shows in various parts of Canada … and this is the show I’m putting on, in my own house here in Petrolia.”

With work on display from Quebec artists Karine Giboulo and Claude Bolduc, New Brunswick’s Terry Graff – former curator of Fredericton’s Beaverbrook Art Gallery – and Chatham’s Laurie Langford, all the art hanging in Barney’s Petrolia studio touched on deep and divisive issues ranging from religion to exploitation to gender identities to the environment, often portraying the issues in colourful, kitschy and darkly humorous ways.

Langford, who said she’d been making art since she could first stand on two feet, said the appeal of Outsider Art is its egalitarian nature.

“A lot of Outsider artists are not formally taught. They just start doing artwork out of a need to do it or frustration or anger or happiness or whatever. They do not follow any particular trend – they do what they feel. And as a result a lot of it is very political, overtly political,” she said. “It can be a comment on culture, it can be kitschy … but it’s always compelling.”

The opportunity to showcase work with the Remix Gallery Collective is sublime, Langford said, because mainstream art galleries in Canada just don’t get it.

“A lot of private galleries are still focused on painting and installation art and sound and film art, so that’s one of the reasons we decided to hold these pop-up galleries, because there aren’t a lot of places for us to show our work,” she said. “It’s not quite understood just yet, but it’s huge in Europe. They have Outsider Art fairs that last for two weeks over there."

The other benefit of holding pop-up exhibitions with her comrade-in-arms is actually getting to speak with fellow artists.

“It’s also allowing all of us to connect with each other, which is very important, because then we don’t feel like we’re doing work that’s weird and different,” Langford said, before smiling. “Well, it is very weird and different but at least we can be weird and different together.”

Barney said he was thrilled with the turnout.

“This is really a fun time, I’m really glad we did this and I want people to see Outsider Art with an open mind,” he said. “It’s colourful and it’s not like anything you’ll see anywhere else.” "

- from the London Free Press (and MSN) article by CARL HNATYSHYN, October 3, 2018

click here for the MSN article:

London Free Press:

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