By Yasmijn Jarram

Michel Nedjar is one of the most important living French outsider artists. Even though there is a rich variety in his use of materials and visual languages, he endlessly repeats the same iconic figures: faces, masks, mummies, bodies, dolls, silhouettes, animals and birds are recurring images. In his rapidly produced drawings there is no time for corrections.

Nedjar’s fascination for dolls originated during his travels to Mexico and Guatemala. That’s where he first came across higher magic, craftsmanship and death. Back in Paris he made his first idol statues out of waste material. At first they looked colourful and comical but after a while they looked sombre and eerie.

Both Nedjar’s two-dimensional and three dimensional work looks for human characteristics, that sometimes turn out to be monstrous. Sometimes his work reminds us of ancient religious art. Nedjar uncovers the vulnerability of the human identity: the boundaries between being a saint and a monster are not very clear, as history has shown us.