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Communing with the Artistic Kindred Souls of Sebastien, My Autistic Son

Whenever people learn that Sebastien, my autistic son, paints and lives in Bali, they think of him as one of these artists who take pride in creating vivid and realistic depictions of their surroundings.

But this is not at all what he does in his paintings, colourings, drawings, outlinings, and cutouts.

Unguided and self-taught, Sebastien engages in art, purely for the process of making it without seeming to care for its output or what others thought of it.

And to those who ask me what his art means or whether he could explain it, I would simply reply: "Sebastien is his art — all his energy, passion, and intuition are unleashed in his broad strokes across the canvas."

To me, Sebastien's art is his sanctuary, a container of his emotions (

As an artistic nincompoop, I hadn't known exactly how to classify Sebastien's art.

When Jerome, my husband, had suggested "Raw Art", I certainly didn't know that a Frenchman, by the name of Jean Dubuffet, had coined this term, "Art Brut" (trans. as "Outsider Art"), until I came upon the "Thailand and Japan Art Brut" exhibition at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center this afternoon.

So what is "Art Brut"?

"Art Brut" is a type of free-flowing art that defies rules, conventions, and explanations. It is often created by populations that are "little affected by social and cultural influences such as people with disabilities, prisoners, non-art-trained artists..."

As Duffet pointed out, these individuals "do not consider themselves to be artists and they do not designate their production as art."

This describes Sebastien, the "non-artist" who does art for art's sake, perfectly.

Still, as I beheld the creativity and diversity of these artworks created by outliers of society, it felt like a strange coming home of sorts. For I got to commune with Sebastien’s artistic kindred souls. Like Sebastien, they were fired up by the spontaneous and creative energy within them. It bent not to the likes of others, but solely by the artists' deep-seated drive to express and/or save themselves.

Although there are works of strikingly high caliber, particularly those made by a prisoner, which are quite distinct from Sebastien’s,

there are others whose artworks or approaches of creating the art truly evoke Sebastien's unconventional aesthetic sensibility:

It is nice to think that Sebastien is not so "alone" in this world, after all. There are many other one-of-a-kind creative souls out there for him. And it has truly been a privilege to have witnessed it.

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