“My idea about things in the West, it’s industrialized, it’s not perfect and beautiful…but what is tragic, or could be tragic, you make it a beautiful pattern into the landscape.” – Tad Anderson
Cosmic coincidence that I came upon a year-old Peter Schjeldahl review of a deKooning retrospective just prior to sitting down and writing about Laramie “outsider” artist Tad Anderson? Schjeldahl feels the same way about deKooning as I did when I first laid eyes on Anderson’s astounding work~~he must be amongst the most gifted artists in our state, and every work of his you see whets your appetite for more.
If Anderson created 100,000 paintings, it wouldn’t be enough. It wouldn’t be enough to satisfy Anderson, and if the public gains the good fortune to see his work, 100,000 paintings won’t be enough for them, either. It’s almost impossible to choose a single work that sums up Anderson’s immense talent, a talent displaying extraordinary use of color, composition, and multiple styles.
Remarkable, considering Anderson has schizophrenia, and “one or two high school art classes” as his sole formal training. Thirty-four years old, he’s been drawing in earnest for a decade. In conversation, Tad’s thoughts at first seem disordered, and he’s refreshingly blunt on the subject of art.
“Early on, I spent a year in Albuquerque watching New Mexico’s art scene—there’s so much crappy art for so much money. And I thought, “this is so dumb, I can do better than this, and why is it so overpriced, anyway?”
I came to understand Anderson is highly connected and disciplined about his work, relentless in his pursuit of quality. Talking with him was like getting yanked from a stupor.
Mental disorders are often linked with high intelligence and creativity, and can produce great works of art. Artists like Anderson have a gift: they rebuff prevalent artistic conceptions and introduce us to thrilling and revealing interpretations of reality.
“Artists who are good, all they are is incredibly intense people speaking from somewhere painfully, way inside,” Anderson said. “When I think of great artists I think of Dostoyevsky or Beethoven………the cult of Van Gogh is almost overdone now; he was a vibrant person, but I’m more into the Expressionists and Post-Impressionists. Van Gogh is good, but all his works I’ve seen pale in comparison to Vuillard or Bonnard or Braque, Klimt—-those people. They had dynamic minds. And that’s why people like art—because of dynamic, curious minds exploring the world.”
Laughing, Anderson adds that he usually avoids other artists almost completely. Down in Albuquerque he’d take the bus out to the edge of the Sandia Mountains, walk in a couple of miles to his tent, and camp with his dog. That’s when Anderson started making art.