“Soul in a Vase” (Savant Syndrome and Autistic Art)

By: Ivett Rozgonyi 

Abstract: The expression of autism through a visual medium, the emergence of visual creativity stemmingfrom it, and the exploration of its inherent attributes, can be considered t o be among the lessresearched fields of study. This research aims to investigate the realm of creative autism, with a particular focus on the exceptional artistic legacy of one particular artist. A creative autistic can be referred to as a person who is capable of creating something novel, out-of-the-ordinary and unique, and who also pursues this practice with an inordinately passionate level of intensity. These individuals have been known to produce huge amounts of work, often without anyone knowing it. The actual appearance of autism spectrum disorder can differ greatly in its expression. However, one commonly accepted attribute is an explicit qualitative impairment in the communication, social development and behaviour of the individual. Through this research, I intend to present and process the visual and written legacy– spanning more than three decades–of a woman who was diagnosed with an intellectual disability, using the method of dynamic examination of drawing (Hárdi, 1983, 2002, 2016). I discovered this woman, who is known as ‘The Artist of Beregszász’, by chance, and initially had the impression that
she was autistic. Based on the content of her biographical data, her self-confessions, and her works themselves, I intend here to identify and establish the connections between the images and the life events in relationto the personality of the artist, as it soon became apparent that the elements of selfhealing and self- expression, especially diary writing and drawing, played a special role in her life. Moreover, this work,the exceptional legacy of ‘The Artist of Beregszász’, may also offer an opportunity to gain further insight into knowledge deriving from the fields of personality psychology, personality pathology and critical psychology.