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It is important to clarify that the VAF hopes to be as inclusive as possible while still maintaining a distinction between its definition and conventional notions of art. We want to be able to include artists and non-artists from all different backgrounds, not just those who would traditionally be considered self-taught or "outsider artists", so the definition of visionary art becomes even trickier.
The VAF is hosting a huge diversity of minds, ranging from well-established professional artists and university professors to self-taught creators who have never shown their work publicly, or have no interest in the art market whatsoever. I encourage open mindedness toward the idea of "visionary", since it will be clear that the term covers a wide range of possibilities.
We like to envision that, within the greatest umbrella of "visionary art", one could interpret many different subjects and categories that are not synonyms, and which welcome and include terms and notions such as: outsider art, raw art, self-taught art, primitive art, folk art, psychedelic art, mystical art, shamanic art, religious art, sacred art, cosmic art, anti art, kid's art!, spontaneous art, automatic art, etc. As many as these categories are, one can easily say that there are still many other forms of art that don't particularly qualify as visionary.
In general, the intent of the VAF is not to be exclusive of any specific art form or artist, instead hoping to be embracive by accepting and promoting all artwork, but especially that which may not be as easily and commonly approached, understood and appreciated by typical norms and standards. So in this sense the VAF will favor people who, in one way or another (and as a principle) question, expand or transcend the consensual norms and practices of art.
For now it is also important to clarify that, in order to select the artists, the VAF often leaned on a couple of parameters:
••The existence of a uniting vision is often a feature of visionary art. The work often has a mission, a purpose, or a dimension of reality that may have been overlooked by the status quo, or may seem of pressing importance to the artist. This notion of purpose or vision differs from artist to artist sometimes radically. While much visionary art is concerned with spiritual, mystical, shamanic and existential realities, oftentimes the work is also centered on social, cultural, political or environmental concerns. Many other times too, the work is not even mental or logical whatsoever, but the result of a spontaneous or intuitive mindset, brought to being by pure play. In this way, the spectrum of visionary art is wide ranging from very down to earth, visibly-functional approaches, to very ethereal and imaginative dimensions; its essence as diverse and malleable as the human soul.
••Devotion as a fundamental principle and driving force of the work is seen as evidence of a true and honest intent and practice in visionary art. The work is a clear physical outcome of uniquely arduous work, a very strong belief or passion, a conviction in a greater or important truth, an unbreakable commitment or some combination of the above. Devotion means that the artist makes it clear in the work itself, that he/she has a strong commitment and need to put a most delicate and persistent care into every second of the work. It also may mean that this work is to continue forever, or become fused with every other aspect of the artist’s life. This is not to say that devotion in visionary art cannot be manifested also as a subconscious or compulsive act, and may at times even seem completely detached or careless.
••Uniqueness, innovation and a general deviation from widely validated methods is also often a factor in aiding to identify visionary art. This is a very tricky matter since visionary art rarely intends to be different or purposefully go out of its way to appear original. The artist’s uniqueness is something that comes as a natural progression to the artist’s vision and not as a forced, ideated strategy. Visionary innovation is less a matter of attempting to do something new and more a manifestation of true passion and fearlessness from or disinterest in consensus agreement.
While not necessarily on purpose, visionary art is often innovative in at least one or many of these categories:
1) The artist’s use of materials, both in collection and implementation of mediums.
2) The artistic processes of creation, which are almost always artist-specific and are many times non-traditional, invented, ritualized, automatic or even accidental.
3) The artist’s concept or statement which may display unfamiliar, unknown, revolutionary, controversial or unpopular subject matters and concerns.
There are hundreds of artists (in
Finally, the VAF hopes to mature and improve, and will therefore always take risks, welcome new ideas and suggestions, and accept corrections, criticism and challenges.