As well as writing about ‘non-standard’ and marginalised varieties of language I have written about practitioners of so-called Outsider Art (Art Brut). This is a short extract from a profile of Nick Blinko for Raw Vision magazine
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL
…’The religious and the macabre are a big part of my personality,’ Nick Blinko said, adding wryly ‘…there wouldn’t be much left without them.’ Not all the faces in Blinko’s fantastically intricate confrontations with his own demons are malignant: among the skulls, imps, fractured dolls, leather-clad foetuses, oranges that might be little suns (- branded with the cross), idols, mushroom-beings, phalluses…there are ironic faces, mischievous things. There is more than a hint of humour in Blinko’s conversation, too. He is affable and articulate and responds politely to the questions from the interviewer, but when the tapes of the conversations (two of them, almost a year apart) are re-played, two things are evident.
He ís holding back. The 35 year-old talks readily enough of producing pictures all his life, from the coats-of-arms he designed for his dolls through the ‘Tudor Asylum drawn in white ink on black paper when he was nine or ten, and his copies of Nicholas Hilliard’s Elizabethan miniatures one year later, to the wholly original masterworks dating from the mid -1980s which came about after months of working four to eight hours a day, sitting cross-legged on a bed in a state of hypnotic concentrated melancholia (his parents coming and going; ‘Oh Look, he’s done another inch!’), astonished at his own virtuosity; ‘I got into it as a viewer as well as a producer.
As the paper fills up, you, the artist, are intrigued.’ Sitting for days on end, balancing the drawing board across his knees, using the finest of pens, obsessively conjuring the most intricate, unedited patterns into existence, he thought at times that, like Bodhidharma the founder of Zen, his legs would just wither away beneath him. He admits suicide attempts. The first at the age of eighteen; ‘There were triggers. I was reading Diane Arbus’ autobiography and I was reading Krishnamurti and Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception at the same time – alternately, one sentence from each.’ And again at twenty-six ; ‘… an immense frustration with the art drove me to it. I couldn’t get my concentration. I planned to hire a place in London and have an exhibition of my pictures to explain why I was taking my life.’ In fact an exhibition at the National Schizophrenia Fellowship in 1994 first brought his art to public attention; he is now represented in the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne…
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