Kiss of Madness: Passionate paintings by an artist who spent her whole life in a psychiatric clinic
Alois Korbats had dreamed of love all her life, but she was destined to be constantly monitored by doctors and … world-wide fame, which was not at all interesting for her. In her strange drawings there is the gushing joy of the life she was deprived of.
The “art of outsiders” is created outside the walls of academies and art workshops, but often in the dungeons of clinics and prisons, generated by silence, isolation, suffering, or loss of connection with reality. Researcher Cesare Lombrowi in his work “Genius and Insanity” argued that the peculiarities of the personalities of Rousseau, Van Gogh, Chopegauer and other great people are akin to the symptoms of mental disorders. Perhaps genius and madness are inextricably linked? However, unprofessional, naive drawings created by patients of psychiatric clinics, prisoners, mediums and people with mental features are the subject of close attention of professional artists, researchers and collectors.
Few outsider artists have achieved the fame and admiration of professionals, which fell to Aloisa Korbats. Women are generally poorly represented in this field of art – in particular, because women with mental disorders often expressed their feelings in some other, more “acceptable” activity for women in those years, such as handicrafts.
Alois was born in Lausanne in 1886 and was not interested in art either in childhood or in her youth. She lost her mother at the age of thirteen — it was a blow that shook Aloisa’s fragile mental health. She studied well, completed sewing courses and met a man whom she passionately loved. But Aloiza’s elder sister, Margarita, was against this marriage and convinced the girl to go to Germany.
Sensual and eccentric, Aloisa dreamed of becoming an opera singer, but in Germany her work as a governess awaited her. Changing jobs one by one, she finally found herself in Potsdam at the house of Kaiser Wilhelm II Chaplain. Being in close proximity to the high strata of society, Aloisa was shocked by this luxurious, shining world, and she was seized by a new passion. Alois hopelessly and painfully fell in love with the German Kaiser. She enthusiastically imagined a romantic and erotic relationship with him, and at times confused reality and her dreams. Since the beginning of the war, she was forced to leave Germany, but in her homeland attracted attention with her loud pacifist and religious statements. Alois was placed in a psychiatric clinic, where she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Korbats then was a little over thirty …
There she found in herself an incredibly strong need to capture those images that swarmed in her mind. At first she did it secretly, using a pencil and ink. It was too poor a set of materials for Alois’s wild imagination. She had to use flower petals, wrapping paper, stitched with thread, toothpaste, envelopes, pieces of cardboard and the flip side of calendars and cards.
Aloise was lucky with the doctors. Finding her drawings, they decided to test the effectiveness of art therapy, and warmly welcomed her desire to continue to create. They were shocked by the magnitude of the fantastic world that Alois created. There they marched, circled in dance and intertwined in the arms of the figure, which the artist herself called with the names of real personalities – state leaders, politicians … She used colored pencil to draw the handsome Kaiser Wilhelm, the magnificent Napoleon Bonaparte, the romantic and frivolous Marie Antoinette …
At the same time, the world of Alois was devoid of any physical basis, it was surreal, fantastic, opposite to the dull present. Supernatural theater, where the constant actors play different roles, the essence of which is love. Cosmos of Alois is filled with love – hugs and kisses, passionate loving couples repeat from work to work. Characters are both people and characters, repeating the outlines of iconographic images or any objects.