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Jamila, 2018, THREE LADIES SERIES 14, Acrylic on canvas, 91cm x 91cm.

Childlike art bathed in flamboyant colours begs people to delve into an enchanting world where simplicity and wonder governs the imagination. That’s the innate beauty of outsider art that defies every artistic norms and rules, with total aesthetic and expressive freedom. Its followers define it today as “the art that’s free of conventions”. What freedom and liberty it offers to the artist!

Bringing together mavericks and dreamers, Ingenious Soul by Galeri Prima may just be the most far-out art exhibition in recent memory. Ten young emerging and senior artists - a mixture of self-taught ones and fine art background artists – will be participating in this exhibition. They comprise Ali Akbar Othman, Elly Nor Suria, Ismail Baba, Khairulsani Ismail, Yeanni Koo, Nancy Lua Ching Sing, Lyna Khairi, Artjamila, Widodo Soerono and Zurin Shaari.

“Artists participating in this exhibition adopt naivete as a style. It’s a style that is usually, but not exclusively, dictated by inexperience. It rejects conventional expertise in the representation or depiction of real objects and formal knowledge of methods,” explains Azlynn Ali, Galeri Prima’s manager.


Khairulsani Ismail, TENTANG HIDUP DAN PANAHAN DIAKAL, Acrylic on canvas, 64.5cm x 39.5cm.

Art, as the experts would attest, requires an informed aesthetic understanding, yet naïve art was created by people who lived beyond the reach of cultural conditioning. Dating back to the mid-19th century, psychiatrists soon discovered that some of their patients were producing paintings and drawings of powerful intensity.

These works soon influenced the avant garde of the early 20th century where artists like Paul Klee and Jean Dubuffet started searching for it outside Europe’s asylums. Dubuffet described these works as “unscathed by artistic culture… and the conventions of classical or fashionable art.”

Zurin Shaari, 2018, ANIMAL PARADISE - -ELEPHANT, Mixed media on canvas, 85cm x 85cm.

More than for any singular artwork, Dubuffet is remembered as the founder of Art Brut, literally translated to raw art, now often referred to as Outsider art. The term applies to works made outside of an academic or artistic institution, often in isolation or as the result of a loosely unconventional upbringing

Today, as well as including artists with disabilities or mental illness, the term is increasingly applied to others on the margins of art and society: the homeless, ethnic minorities, migrants, folk artists, the self-taught.

While we might picture the likes of the Renaissance Masters or contemporary artists when we think of art, there is yet an untapped world of creativity beyond the realm of conventional art education that is beckoning us to step into. Outsider art in all its glorious forms including primitive art and naïve art offers viewers a world where artistic norms are discarded while intuition and wanton imagination are embraced gleefully.

Outsider art is conceived and produced by artists without specific academic preparation, and without the “obligation” of having to use elaborate techniques and conventional thematic and chromatic approaches in the work they execute. This doesn’t mean that they do not study and perfect their art and certainly does not imply that their quality is inferior. After all, artistic capacity is an innate gift and no techniques, rules or dogmas can restrict its quality or withdraw its value, when it truly exists.

Its childlike and simplistic attributes calls viewers to discard their worldly-wise ways and view the world once again with innocent eyes. And Galeri Prima’s latest exhibition offers you just that – a chance to be a child again and to be lost in the colourful world of art that defies both convention and description.

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Ali Akbar, 2018, MALAYASCAPE SERIES 2, Mixed media on canvas, 60cm x 75cm.

Ingenious Soul

Where Galeri Prima, Balai Berita, 31 Jalan Riong, KL

When Until Jan 25

10 am to 6 pm daily. Weekends by appointment.

Call 03-2724 8300

Admission Free

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