Twenty one exhibitions of outsider art have been curated at Orange Regional Gallery in the past 15 years.
Double Vision, a survey of works by Tony and Sylvia Convey, which opened last night, marks the finale in this long series of exhibitions highlighting the incredible vision of artists who confound conventional aesthetics.
The exhibition was opened by Professor Colin Rhodes, dean of Sydney college of the art, University of Sydney.
Professor Rhodes is the author of the influential Outsider Art: Spontaneous Alternatives (2000) and Primitivism and Modern Art (1994). He is director of STOARC (the Self-Taught and Outsider Art Research Collection), based at the university.
A new book about the Conveys’ Double Vision - A Shared Journey, was launched at the opening. It is a fine publication, superbly written and insightful. It delves deep into the personal and creative lives of these two committed artists.
Outsider art is different from other artistic categories. What Outsider artists have in common is a complete lack of interest in conforming to the art fashions of the day. Working outside the fine art system (schools, galleries, museums and so on), these people have produced, from the depths of their own personalities and for themselves and no one else, works of outstanding originality in concept, subject and techniques. They are self-taught as artists. They transform the commonplace, often with obsessiveness, spontaneity and improvisation and their images have a unique capacity to enchant and disturb.
Outsider art includes art brut (raw art), naive art, folk art, fantastic and visionary art.
Tony Convey has kindly answered the following questions about their exhibition Double Vision.
BG: The title Double Vision refers to you both working together over many years. Is it collaboration?
TC: We always saw ourselves as being a tribe of two as artists. Even though our technical resources and subject matter are different we share a similar imaginative approach to art making. From our earliest days as painters we organised our own exhibitions. We shared a studio, mostly in our home, and saw ourselves as sharing a path as creators.
BG: How would you describe your work - visionary, outsider?
TC: We have been called naive painters, outsider artists and visionary artists and really all of these labels can be legitimately applied to our work however we think the description of visionary painters is the most apt as our imagery, although rooted in our everyday experiences, is coloured and enhanced by our dreams, reflections and love of the natural world.
BG: Which artists inspire you the most? What is it about their work that you respond to?
TC: We were attracted to artists who also delved into their spiritual worlds for inspiration and they include artists from many different cultures and periods. Some of them are Ivan Albright, Leonora Carrington, Leonor Fini, Richard Oelze and Arthur Boyd. We also admire the work of many Australian naives/outsiders like Irvine Homer, Douglas Stubbs, Charles Callins and Lorna Chick.
BG: Professor Colin Rhodes launched your book last night - please tell us how the book came about?
TC: After working together for over four decades we thought it made sense to put together a book showing something of the diversity and range of our work.
BG: What is your favourite work in the exhibition?
TC: My favourite works in the show are Sylvia's magnificent quilts and my On the Way Out and her favourite work is Avian Alchemy and my The Return.
BG: What do you hope visitors will take away from the exhibition?
TC: Even though our work is derived from our personal experiences we believe that others can relate to our art as throughout our work a love of life and the natural world shines. The detail and complexity of much of the work allows the viewer to enter the images on their own terms, and see meanings that we were unaware of when we created the work as most of them arose spontaneously, without preconceived formal planning.
Double Vision will be on display until July 5.