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Japanese Outsider Art gets a warm Wellcome

The exhibition will bring together more than 300 works by residents of social welfare institutions on the country’s Honshu island

While art “insiders” continue to discuss whether the term “Outsider Art” is condescending, a show celebrating work by self-taught artists is on display in London’s Wellcome Collection (until 30 June). The display of Japanese Outsider Art, known as Souzou art, will bring together more than 300 works by residents of social welfare institutions on the country’s Honshu island. “[It] challenges some of the most powerful myths about Outsider Art: that it is an obsessive or solitary act; that it is inward-looking and apolitical, produced by people who have little or no stake in mainstream society,” says Shamita Sharmacharja, the curator of the show. It has been organised with Het Dolhuys, the museum of psychiatry in Haarlem, the Netherlands, with support from Haretari Kumottari, a Japanese non-profit organisation, and the Tokyo social welfare organisation Aiseikai.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 245 April 2013