What makes an artist? What drives someone to create a painting, a composition or write a novel? While many academic categories of art exist, not every artist easily fits into prescribed meanings. Alan Russell-Cowan is one such artist. Afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia, Cowan struggles with the desire to be a great painter while battling delusions and auditory hallucinations. ‘My Name is Alan and I Paint Pictures’ examines Cowan’s life, the role art plays in it and how mental illness intertwines with artistic creation and perception. For Alan painting becomes a cure for his symptoms and the means of his release, yet for us his painting means much more. It is an alternative perspective on art and life, a world of mental illnessvisually reconstructed for viewers who will never experience this themselves Through Alan’s life and work, we can examine the wider art world, questioning the means and rationale behind contemporary critical judgment of art.

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