The line between madness and sanity is a fine one at the best of the times.

The nature of true creativity means constantly walking a tightrope between these two states of being.

This delicate and disturbing balancing act is reflected in the subtitle of the fascinating yet disquieting Borderline exhibition at Ravenna’s Museo d’Arte della Città (MAR) :  ‘Artisti tra normalità e follia (Artists between normality and insanity).

Gaston Teuscher from Switzerland , one of the artists featured, is not a name I’d come across before.

Alongside more famous names like Bacon, Basquiat, Dalì and Ernst it would be easy to overlook his strange world yet his obsessiveness and repetition is typical of other works on display.

Teuscher is an unusual case in that he didn’t start drawing until he was 71. Once he got the bug he couldn’t stop. In the last dozen years of his life,according to a brief online bio, he drew on whatever materials came to hand, getting colours from tobacco juice, wine and fruit.

The names given to the rooms in the exhibition sum up its themes: ‘Unease of reality’, ‘Unease of body’, ‘Portraits of the soul’ and ,finally, ‘The dream reveals the nature of things’.

Of the Art Brut artists, the catalogue states: “Psychic suffering is housed in the body……what these outsider artists depict is a body that takes onto itself the pain and instability of the interior life”.

What you see in Borderline isn’t pretty but offers a window into the tortured souls whose lives live on in the works they left behind.

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