Pierre Pou­lin

Magazin'Art - - Summary - Hé­lè­ne­ca­ro­line Four­nier

A brief his­to­ry of out­si­der art

The la­bel "art brut" was used in 1945 by French pain­ter Jean Du­buf­fet to des­cribe art crea­ted by per­sons with no ar­tis­tic cul­ture. He thus built on the 1920 works and fin­dings of Dr. Hans Prinz­hon on the "art of the men­tal­ly ill" al­so cal­led "asy­lum art", and on Dr. Wal­ter Mor­gen­tha­ler's 1921 stu­dy of psy­chia­tric pa­tient Adolf Wöl­fli, the most ico­nic asy­lum ar­tist. While vi­si­ting psy­chia­tric ins­ti­tutes in Swit­zer­land and France, Du­buf­fet qui­ck­ly glea­ned a vast col­lec­tion of such works that will be ma­na­ged by the "Com­pa­gnie de l’art brut", with which An­dré Bre­ton will for a time be as­so­cia­ted. The term "out­si­der art" has since com­mon­ly been used as the En­glish equi­va­lent for "art brut".

In 1947 and 1951, Jean Du­buf­fet or­ga­ni­zed a num­ber of ex­hi­bi­tions to present works that were parts of his col­lec­tion. In 1951, the "Com­pa­gnie de l’art brut" col­lec­tion was trans­fer­red to the Uni­ted States and then re­tur­ned to France in 1962. Af­ter a num­ber of ad­ven­tures, the col­lec­tion was fi­nal­ly sent to Lau­sanne in 1976, where it since re­mains, lis­ted as the "Col­lec­tion de l’art brut".

Out­si­der art has be­come an of­fi­cial art mo­ve­ment, crea­ted by such in­di­vi­duals as psy­chia­tric asy­lum pa­tients, iso­la­ted self-taught ar­tists, me­diums and out­casts of all sorts (pri­so­ners, re­cluses, mys­tics, anar­chists, re­bels, etc.), all un­tou­ched by mains­tream ar­tis­tic cul­ture and crea­ting uni­que­ly per­so­nal art­works out­side aca­de­mic aes­the­tic stan­dards. For Jean Du­buf­fet, the term re­fer­red to art that was spon­ta­neous, wi­thout cultu­ral pre­ten­tion or in­tel­lec­tual ap­proach; a form of art that de­ri­ved from a pure and crude ar­tis­tic pro­cess, rein­ven­ted through the ar­tists' own im­pulses. Jean Du­buf­fet has of­ten tried to re­de­fine the term "art brut", in an ef­fort to dis­tin­guish it from naïve art and/or art crea­ted by chil­dren.

Sin­gu­lar art or post-out­si­der art, saw the light of day in 1978 at an ex­hi­bi­tion held at the Mo­dern Art Mu­seum of Pa­ris en­tit­led Les Sin­gu­liers de l’art. These so-cal­led "sin­gu­lar ar­tists" as­ser­ted them­selves of spon­ta­nei­ty and im­pro­vi­sa­tion as op­po­sed to the in­tel­lec­tua­lism of es­ta­bli­shed ar­tists, but where not among the ca­te­go­ry of in­di­vi­duals at the ori­gin of out­si­der art.

Hence, out­si­der art, sin­gu­lar art, art that is un­clas­si­fiable (out­side the norms), has spread among ar­tists that are heal­thy of bo­dy and mind whose main dis­tinc­tion is the crea­tion of spon­ta­neous, rough, im­pul­sive works of art wi­thout re­gard to mains­tream aes­the­tic va­lues.

Out­si­der art emer­ging on the art mar­ket

The fact that out­si­der art, pre­vious­ly on the mar­gins of the art world, to­day emerges on the art mar­ket is quite iro­nic. With its his­to­ri­cal back­ground and with re­now­ned pro­fes­sio­nals co­ming to its de­fence, out­si­der art has been lif­ted from the strict mu­seum sec­tor to be­come in­crea­sin­gly po­pu­lar among art lo­vers and col­lec­tors, no­ta­bly in New York, bea­con ci­ty of the arts.

The pro­fes­sio­na­li­za­tion of the out­si­der art mar­ket has been achie­ved through the Out­si­der Art Fair. Well-es­ta­bli­shed in New York, this fair has been in exis­tence since 1992 and has been held in Pa­ris on three oc­ca­sions. Ch­ris­tie's, the most po­wer­ful auc­tion house in the world, sche­du­led its ve­ry first sale ex­clu­si­ve­ly de­di­ca­ted to out­si­der art in Ja­nua­ry 2016, which was en­tit­led Li­be­ra­tion through Ex­pres­sion: Out­si­der and Ver­na­cu­lar Art. Due to what was dee­med a small re­vo­lu­tion, the mar­ket for out­si­der art has since ta­ken-off in New York as well as in Pa­ris.

These aty­pi­cal ar­tists – these out­si­ders – are not see­king to be re­co­gni­zed as es­ta­bli­shed ar­tists in the art world, but have now be­come part of this uni­verse, bol­ste­red by a real ap­pe­tite on the part of a gro­wing num­ber of Ame­ri­can and Eu­ro­pean col­lec­tors to­wards in­ves­ting in this par­ti­cu­lar genre.

Pierre Pou­lin, out­si­der, sin­gu­lar, in a class of his own

Born in 1958, Pierre Pou­lin is one of the rare Ca­na­dian ar­tists prac­ti­cing out­si­der art and lis­ted on the art mar­ket. At the age of 16, he be­gan an ath­le­tic ca­reer in acro­ba­tic skiing. Bet­ween the years 1979 and 1984, he won six World Cups in free style acro­ba­tic skiing and has par­ti­ci­pa­ted in a great num­ber of other high le­vel cham­pion­ships. Pierre Pou­lin is thus part of a small group of Ca­na­dian le­gends in acro­ba­tic skiing. He la­ter be­came a ce­le­bra­ted coach, ha­ving hel­ped the Swe­den Wo­men's Team win a gold me­dal as well as ano­ther me­dal for the Men's Mo­gul Team.

Since his pain­ting de­but in 1992, Pierre Pou­lin has been ins­pi­red by ar­tist Bengt Lind­ström (1925-2008), a po­wer­ful and wild pain­ter who fa­vo­red dazz­ling co­lours. This crea­tive in­fluence is rea­di­ly ob­ser­vable in Pierre Pou­lin's cor­pus, who great­ly ad­mires this great Swe­dish crea­tor. He is al­so im­pres­sed by the Co­bra Group, an in­ter­na­tio­nal re­vo­lu­tio­na­ry mo­ve­ment born af­ter the Se­cond World War that de­fi­ned it­self, per the Belgian sur­rea­list poet Ch­ris­tian Do­tre­mont, as "an ex­pe­ri­men­tal or­ga­nic col­la­bo­ra­tion that avoids all ste­rile and dog­ma­tic theo­ry". The Co­bra Group de­fen­ded a style of pain­ting ba­sed on truth that owed no­thing to in­tel­lec­tua­lism, but ra­ther to the "li­ving form" which no­ta­bly took root in the out­si­der art of Jean Du­buf­fet.

Ha­ving stu­died the po­wer of light and sym­bols, Pierre Pou­lin crea­ted high­ly ins­pi­red com­plex and in­tense works which he ex­hi­bi­ted as ear­ly as 1996 in Mont­réal and Qué­bec ci­ty. From 1996 to the year 2000, he was at Ga­le­rie Har­ri­son, lo­ca­ted in Mont­réal's World Trade Cen­ter. In 1997, he ex­hi­bi­ted his works at the "Centre de dif­fu­sion ar­tis­tique du Vieux Port de Qué­bec" in Qué­bec ci­ty. Bet­ween 2006 and 2009, he ex­hi­bi­ted his works in To­ron­to and in the Uni­ted States, no­ta­bly in Flo­ri­da and in Vir­gi­nia. In 2006, he be­came part of the Guy La­li­ber­té's pres­ti­gious Cirque du So­leil col­lec­tion. Over the years, a great num­ber of im­por­tant col­lec­tors ac­qui­red his works, such as the Bal­let de Qué­bec, foun­ded by Ch­ris­tiane Bé­lan­ger, in the Uriel Centre, a spe­cia­li­zed clas­si­cal dance ve­nue which holds a vast col­lec­tion of art­works and wishes to even­tual­ly create a mu­seum de­di­ca­ted to the ar­tist's works.

2015 pro­ved to be a pi­vo­tal year for Pierre Pou­lin. He was wel­co­med as a per­ma­nent ar­tist at Ga­le­rie Zen, lo­ca­ted in Lac-beau­port near Qué­bec ci­ty, where he's been li­ving since 1990. This same year, he was the sub­ject of two te­le­vi­sed do­cu­men­ta­ries that al­so fea­tu­red his work. In 2015, he al­so pro­du­ced a se­ries of pain­tings for an old friend, Yves La­roche, twice win­ner of the World Cup in acro­ba­tic skiing. To­ge­ther they se­lec­ted all the works used to illus­trate his book en­tit­led "So­lide comme La Roche", pu­bli­shed in the fall of 2015, which re­lates the ter­rible ac­ci­dent sus­tai­ned by this ath­lete who left a mark on his era, as did Pierre Pou­lin.

In the same wake, he was no­ti­ced by an art theo­rist who took ac­tive in­ter­est in his work, which she in­clu­ded in a 2016 in­ter­na­tio­nal ex­hi­bi­tion held in Ca­na­da that fea­tu­red this art trend, un­for­tu­na­te­ly still re­la­ti­ve­ly unk­nown to the Qué­bec pu­blic, and who will al­so fea­ture his work in other such in­ter­na­tio­nal ex­hi­bi­tions in 2017. Af­ter 25 years since his be­gin­ning in visual arts, Pierre Pou­lin has rea­ched a new ca­reer le­vel as he is now being lis­ted on Art­price, the glo­bal in­for­ma­tion lea­der in the art mar­ket field, where he now sells his works.

Pierre Pou­lin for­ce­ful­ly sculpts lines with brisk im­promp­tu mo­ve­ments. Bright­ly co­lou­red shapes of all sizes are po­si­tio­ned and re­pli­ca­ted on the can­vas. The pic­to­rial mat­ter, rich and abun­dant, is mol­ded and car­ved to im­part vi­vid emo­tions. The ex­pres­sion, which in­ter­nal­ly takes form, is ex­te­rio­ri­zed and pro­pels it­self on the can­vas as a cry from the hearth. Sport and pain­ting are clo­se­ly lin­ked. Pierre Pou­lin does not paint things, he paints life. He of­ten adds sym­bols, co­ded mes­sages, hid­den, at times su­per­po­sed one on top of the other. His fi­gures and sil­houettes show per­so­na­li­ty and sen­si­ti­vi­ty. "Pierre Pou­lin's pain­ting is first and fo­re­most vi­vid­ly po­wer­ful with da­ring bold co­lours," it's been writ­ten. His force re­sides in his abi­li­ty to ex­press life's sen­si­bi­li­ties in a uni­que­ly per­so­nal fa­shion. The ar­tist guides the pu­blic through sum­mer­saults of high le­vel ae­ro­ba­tics. His crea­tive uni­verse is one of free­dom, in his bold choice of sub­jects as much as in his use of co­lour. His pain­ting is a true re­flec­tion of his co­lour­ful per­so­na­li­ty.

Ter­ri­toire sur­na­tu­rel, mixed me­dia on can­vas, 48 x 36 in

Le Bai­ser, mixed me­dia on can­vas, 48 x 36 in

Di­gi­tal, mixed me­dia on can­vas, 84 x 96 in

Sha­ma­nic Spi­rit II, mixed me­dia on can­vas, 36 x 48 in

L’al­chi­miste, mixed me­dia on can­vas, 60 x 96 in

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