Naive Art

Painter Yvon M. Daigle, the founder of the Musée International d'Art Naïf de Magog, tells us that naive art is the fruit of the work of artists, often self-taught, who paint "with their heart or, as some take pleasure in saying, with the eyes of the soul." These are artists who "retain the spirit of young children, open to wonder and capable of fresh approaches, but without infantilism." In this, he is quite right, because most naive artists do conserve from their youth the freedom of expression and the inventiveness that explain the appeal not only of their art, but of the art of all the children of the world. Naive art, however, is not only wonderment and freshness; nor the only form of art created with heart or with the eyes of the soul. In this regard, naive painters join the great family of all the artists of the world. But, they do so with a creative language that is all their own and one which distinguishes them from all other creators.

This language is a language that we all learn and practice when we are young, as it is universal and fundamental in all early pursuits of visual arts. However, it is also a language that the great majority of us chose to forget as we approach our teenage years and begin seeking a realism that our pencils and brushes never quite managed to achieve.

Some us, of course, do overcome this obstacle and go on, in many cases, to become figurative artists. Others, setting aside the need for storytelling and descriptive art, turn their attention to the material side of things and its potential for transformation and become champions of expressionism and abstraction. Yet another group of creators devote their energies to inventing new concepts and widening the very definition of the word "art". By doing so, they in turn also win themselves a worthy place in the world of contemporary art. The quality of the works created by such artists, as well as the importance of their contribution to the broadening of human knowledge cannot be doubted and is justly celebrated in all the museums of the world.

Yet, alongside such artists, there remains one last group of creators who, in some cases stay true to the visual language of their youth and spend their whole life perfecting its quality. There are also those who, after having set visual arts aside for a while, return to it later in life and take up exactly where they left off years, if not decades, earlier. It is among these persons, all motivated by a strong passion to create, that we find naive artists.

Because they practice a form of art that is familiar to us, we could think that naive artists contribute less to the development of human knowledge than do classic or contemporary artists. To think so, however, might be an error because, beyond the interest that can be found in the stories and descriptions that fill the world of naive art, this form of art also provides us with direct access to the roots of symbolic and logical human thought. Naive art reveals to us many of the processes by which we breakdown into parts the world that surrounds us and, according to our own logic and whims, reconstruct it to make it appear simpler, better organized or more pleasing to our eyes; when not simply using it to escape into imaginary new worlds. Naive art also brings to light many of the mental influences which affect, often without our knowledge, the accuracy of our vision of the world.