Artist ‘with more chromosomes’ exhibited for the first time at a large art fair

NOS / Jules Jessurun

NOS News

  • Jules Jessurun

    editor online

  • Jules Jessurun

    editor online

This year’s art fair Unfair in Amsterdam shows the work of a so-called outsider artist: Bruin Parry, an artist “with one more chromosome”, as his discoverer Jan Hoek calls it.

It is one of the first times that several works by an outsider artist can be seen at an ‘ordinary’ art fair in the Netherlands; an artist with an intellectual disability. Parry himself hates the word, like the label down, which he finds too restrictive. Parry prefers to talk about one mental superpower.

“Look, I like this guitar the best,” says Bruin Parry, 23, as he gives a tour of the part of the art fair where his works are displayed. He points to a red wooden guitar that says ‘Traveling through Europe’. “It’s based on my favorite series by Bassie and Adriaan”.

All the art that Parry exhibits at Unfair with has the theme Bassie and Adriaan. From a large red-and-white gate that he made together with the artist Lucas Hendrix to a collection of sweaters with drawings of the robot Robin on. Everything is for sale for prices ranging from a few tens for a porcelain plate made by Parry to 3000 euros for the wooden gate.

‘Works disappear for too much money’

The popularity of the outsider artists had been rising abroad for some time, says Hans Looijen. He is the director of Outsider Art, a museum in the Hermitage Amsterdam. The museum is dedicated to “artists who stand outside the ordinary art world and sometimes have a mental or intellectual disability”, as the museum itself defines it.

“At the auction house Christie’s in New York, they have separate specialists for outsider artists,” explains Looijen. “There are annual auctions where works are sold for a lot of money.” He makes the comment that the best-selling works are by deceased artists, but according to him it is an example that outsider artists have been taken for it before.

And now the art of a Dutch outsider artist can be seen at a Dutch art fair. Looijen: “As far as I know, this is really the first time that several works by one outsider artist have been displayed at a regular art fair.”

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    The gate that gives access to the work
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    One of the works of art: a wooden guitar inspired by Bassie and Adriaan
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    Some clothes on display
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    De Gashouder in Amsterdam, where the work of the outsider artist Parry can be seen

According to the museum director, Parry belongs to the A-list, the top of outsider artists in the Netherlands. This year he is nominated for the Volkskrant Beeldende Kunstprijs, a leading award for young art talents. His work will therefore also be exhibited in the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam later this year.

Artist Hoek has been fighting for years to break the barrier that exists between artists from the mainstream circuit and outsider artists. He collaborates with them in many of his works. He met Parry when he was his nanny. Now Parry works four days a week in Hoek’s studio on his own work or assists.

NOS / Jules Jessurun

Bruin Parry and its discoverer Jan Hoek (r)

Hoek also sees the popularity of artists like Parry grow, but he also sees obstacles. “In the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, for example, there is now a lot of attention to diversity. Art by non-Western artists should be exhibited, more art by women and art by non-white people. But the chance that someone likes Bruin is allowed to participate in a group exhibition is virtually zero. “

It does not seem to bother Parry much. He likes being in a museum, but he gets less and less work. “If I have enough money, I’ll make music with an American producer, just like my idol Michael Jackson did.”

Hoek: “What I’ve agreed with Brown’s parents is that we take every idea he comes up with seriously. For example, when he said he wanted to do an exhibition about Bassie and Adriaan, I held my breath for a while. “This is a serious art fair, but then I want to think with him: how do we do it in a way that is not just a joke,”


Conversely, Hoek also learns from outsider artists like Parry, he says. “He is not preoccupied with what high art is. He shows that art really does not have to be salon-capable. “

Museum director Looijen also believes that one can learn a lot from artists like Parry and other outsiders. “Their works are exempt from pretensions, and tasters in the art are looking for sources of inspiration. That’s what these types of artists are a part of.”

The art fair Unfair can be seen until July 17 in Gashouder in Amsterdam. The exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam with works by Parry opens in October. The Outsider Art Museum in Amsterdam is open daily.

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