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Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan

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Photograph of visitors exploring the exhibition, Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan, at Wellcome Collection.
Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan exhibition, Benjamin Gilbert. Source: Wellcome Collection. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0).

This exhibition brought together more than 300 works for the first major display of Japanese Outsider Art in the UK, reflecting the growing acclaim for such art while questioning assumptions about the category itself.

'Souzou’ has no direct translation in English but a dual meaning in Japanese. Written one way, it means creation – written another, it means imagination. The 46 artists represented lived in or attended social welfare institutions across Japan, and the exhibition comprised ceramics, textiles, paintings, sculpture and drawings. Rejecting a purely biographical approach, the show was object-led, with a startling array of works offering singular and affecting explorations of culture, memory and creativity.