Nezábudka Gallery, founded in 2004 by League for Mental Health in Bratislava, is contemporary art gallery whose activities are mainly focused on the creation of those who’s life had been influenced by mental illness. Although they don’t have any formal art education, art became new form of expression for them and at times even provided a new life purpose.
The artistic representation of their inner lives often revealed highly interesting works, which were mostly hidden behind the walls of mental institutions while having limited opportunities to share them with the public. Discovering talented patients in those places was the main goal of MUDr. Peter Breier, one of the founders of LMH. Since 2004, when the league started to work with this group of people more intensively, various talents were discovered and gradually a diverse collection of artworks was created.
The Sample of works from this collection should not be looked at as diagnostic material, but instead should be appreciated for their artistic quality. Each of the artists, whose works are presented in this gallery,is a unique personality with his/her own methods of expression, and with individual educational, social, cultural or economic backgrounds. What connect them is their uniqueness, authenticity and originality both in form and content. That is also typical for this kind of art labeled by French painter and theorist Jean Dubuffet in 1945 as art brut. Despite the fact, that art brut artists are sometimes considered isolated from the outside world and focused on themselves, we cannot really agree with the notion of isolation in connection with their relationship to visual art. Most of the artists were influenced by both popular and ‘high’ culture: reading books about art, watching movies, visiting various art classes and shows. But even while they are reacting to outside stimulation, they are still able to keep their own sensibility and authentic ‘handwriting’ – they are still themselves. Their art is not primary motivated by an ambition to show their work at galleries or to conform to the market. What is important is the creative process itself. They express themselves through art simply because it is easier for them than speaking about their feelings Creativity offers an escape to a different world and helps them when they feel lonely. It expands their mind and satisfies the need for a meaningful activity.
What is also notable is that the need to express themselves visually (and sometimes also literary) appeared strongly, only as adults – following much of their lived lives. Part of LMH mainly organized with the Nezábudka Foundation, is to create positive conditions for their creativity and to support those authors who would like to pursue art in the future.
Nezábudka Gallery is the only gallery in Slovakia, that is specialized on discovering, collecting and exhibiting of art works made by people with the experience with mental ilness. This kind of art has also been referred to as art brut. The visual qualities of this art, were demonstrated by the exhibitions, realized in Slovakia and abroad.