Imagine walking into an art gallery and you cant stop smiling.
I am staring at Pedro David’s sensational, huge, colourful canvases exploding with life and a rhythm that makes your heart open wide. His Impressionist like marks, his stunning use of colour combination and the depth of movement he manages to portray you might categorize his work to be in the school of Abstract Expressionism. Two thirds of the canvases on display are already marked with a red dot, and it is only a week into the exhibition. This is Pedro David’s first solo exhibition and he is only in his 20’s. He had already won the best painting prize of the Fourth Young Creators competition by the Arrecife town hall in Lanzarote in 2014.
In Pedro David words he says “My most fervent desire is that my paintings may enable you to capture and feel all of the freedom that brings me before my paintbrushes. All of the freedom that enables me to trace my otherwise often hidden feelings and thoughts. To trace them as lines and circles, in all directions and every colour”.
Pedro’s technique is to paint at table height with long brushes. In the English language he might have be called an ‘Outsider Artist’ or in France where the concept was born ‘Art Brut’. Outsider Artists are often described in a derogatory way as ‘self taught’. Many artists are ‘self taught’. Paul Gaugin worked as a sailor and a stockbroker before he started painting. Vincent van Gogh studied art briefly at the Antwerp Academy, but it did not influence his unique approach to painting. More lately, untrained, Jack Vettriano sold one his paintings in 2004, The Singing Butler, for £775,000, yet he is often sneered at by art critics as ‘self taught’.
I am undertaking an art university degree from home, where all my work is commented on by tutors and university assessors, only after I have completed a module that is worded briefly in an A3 manual. There is no direct tutoring as such. In theory I could earn a degree without ever having spoken or met my tutor or the assessor. That puts many of the students studying with The Open College of Arts in the category of ‘self taught’. According to art critics, artists are those who compose their works according to certain design principles that only well informed persons – or insiders – understand.
How many of us are in the category of Outsider Artist? If an Insider artist orders a team of makers to create the work that they had intellectually designed, they are considered talented artists. And today there are many ‘artists’ who do not work with their hands at all.
Pedro David Betancort Ramos was in a train accident when he was just 14 and only has the use of 15% of his body. His life partner, he says, is his wheelchair. Its hard to believe that he has not studied Fine Art. He says “ When I am painting I feel free. I don’t feel tied down to anything or anyone, not even to my own constrained body. It is my soul that speaks, and I follow the compass of its voice. I become so lost in the canvas that I leave everything else behind; even my own physical limits.”
I have in my recent researches read that ‘Outsider Art’ is the new In. Everyone can finally escape the taunts of the art critic bully’s. From the United States to Paris and Madrid to Venice and London, art gallery’s and museums are stocking this latest trend. The Insiders are reveling in the Outsiders and making a fortune. I feel like laughing at the absurdity of it.
I have been researching outsider artist Judith Scott for one of my art degree modules about artists that use fiber wrapping techniques. She was born with Downs Syndrome, was rescued from an institution by her twin sister who became her legal guardian and coaxed her into an art program, where she began her artful wrappings. Now art installations, collections and artists are borrowing her ideas, Art Fairs and galleries all over the world are jumping to the new tune of Outsider Art.
Pedro David says “My dream: that my art may fill your soul, and that you may be able to see beyond a canvas”. I want to meet Pedro David and give him Spanish double kisses for that insight alone.
The Pulsaciones exhibition in the Sala De Arte, Charco San Gines, Arrecife, Lanzarote was shown from 11 March to 22 April 2016.