Jean Michel Basquiat Exhibition

posted in: Inspiration | 5

I may have mentioned how I am entranced by the art work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. We recently went to Spain to see a major exhibition, Now is the Time.

Jean Michel died prematurely, sadly under the influence of drugs. He was a middle-class, mixed race New Yorker (Haitian father and Puerto Rican mother) who spoke French and Italian as well as English, and in his short life he produced some of the most interesting art I have come across. I find myself completely seduced by the colour, verve, message, and excitement of his work which speak to me at a visceral level. He was working in the 1980s, and is famous partly because he collaborated with Andy Warhol.

This painting, which is seen towards the start of the exhibition is called The Irony of the Negro Policeman. It doesn’t really need explaining. The white wash over the painting is scratched away showing red and blue underneath. Many of his paintings are covered in words, many crossed out to draw attention to them. Some are foreign words, word play, musical words, words linked in the mind of an eclectic reader and traveller, sometimes heightened by drugs.

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Irony of a Negro Policeman, 1981

This is a self-portrait. I love the hair/crown, the black/brown skin, the use of red, white and blue. It is also about the city.

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Self portrait, 1984

The very strong use of colour, and oil sticks, is so appealing. Another strong, black man. This time a boxer. With a crown, a weapon; dominant; energetic.

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The Ring, 1981

Here is another painting of a man’s head, a very beautiful interpretation of black mindsets perhaps.  So much pressure, inside and outside; music, violence, industrial landscapes, destruction, private property, fear, anger, beauty, understanding.

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Untitled, 1981

5 Responses

  1. We saw a big show of Basquait’s work at the Palais de Toykyo in Paris 5 years ago. I suspect similar to the one in Bilbao although very tempted to drop everything and go. Wonderful.

  2. I have never heard of this artist but there is something compelling about the Untitled 1981.

  3. At first sight it looks like elaborate graffiti but of course isn’t as simple as it looks. I still haven’t seen the film about him (1996) which has an interesting cast and artist director and is the reason why I first heard of Basquiat. I’ll look out for his work now he comes so highly recommended! I suspect my not-impressed-by-art son would absolutely love this.

  4. Same as Marianna, I am aware of the film but haven’t seen it. Interesting pieces you’ve shown, K.

  5. His work is raw and gutsy. Like his line work which is fresh and strong and his use of bold colours.
    Cheryl

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