The room is covered in symbols and graffiti tags. As you walk past the receptionist and glance over to your right, you are jumped out at by a force – a force of doodled silly figures, signs and squiggles, a random mix of drawn, barely drawn, almost erased, smoothly shaded mask-like shapes, buried in candy colors. Yellow, pink, red, blue, green and metallic paints stroke the largely stretched professional artist canvas framed onto the bare white walls. February 2013 marked the opening of one of the greatest exhibitions of all time: Jean-Michael-Basquiat at the Gagosian Gallery on 24th Street and 11th Avenue in Chelsea, Manhattan. This exhibit features a great sum of Basquiat’s most famous works from the time he began his career as a street-artist up until his death. Vibrant, bold, and large in quantity, Basquiat’s works prove to be charismatic and witty, energizing his audience.
Street-Artist, Collaborator, Oracle
Jean-Michael-Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, New York and started his artistic endeavor by spray painting Downtown, Manhattan working under the pseudonym SAMO. Inscribing messages and quotes relevant in the 80’s, Basquiat’s facets in working as a multi-talented artist allowed him to capture the attention of the art world. Not only were art magazines, television and radio shows impressed with Basquiat’s genius and allure, but so was pop-artist Andy Warhol, with whom he eventually collaborated. Basquiat’s impressive early life centers around his later works, which the Gagosian Gallery fabulously recognizes.
In witnessing the enigmatic yet monumental works of Basquiat, it is clear he worked in a variety of media: brushes, oil-stick, markers, spray-paint, and collage materials such as fabric, wooden panel, and cardboard. In fact, this overwhelming array of material and medium is the most breathtaking. His “creative persona” allows the audience to engage within his large, funky, up-scale paintings, creating an energizing view every which way your head turns.
Thanks to the large quantity of works within the gallery, the scene is somewhat what you would expect to see in an art museum on the Upper-East-Side. Basquiat’s intelligent sense of line and composition authorize the viewer to praise his range of style and theme. The goal for all viewers is to experience the physical presence and nature of his works that you cannot see when looking at a reproduction on the internet. Basquiat’s piece, “Untitled (Two Heads on Gold)” (1982) invites you to come up close and examine the large, choppy brush work and eloquent texture throughout the whole piece.
Throughout every piece Basquiat has hanging in the Gagosian Gallery, there is a sense of pure energy. This energy defines the balance between opposing tensions: control and spontaneity, risk and wit, thunder and lightening. Basquiat’s paintings embody an extensive range of ingenuity that fastens a crown on each and every one of our heads.
- Gagosian Gallery– Jean-Michael-Basquiat exhibition – Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m
Article by Marissa Mule