Getting to Know Basquiat
Updated: Jan 3
I was genuinely excited when I was invited to participate in a tribute show for Basquiat by Artemis Gallery. As a self taught artist, I gained most of my art history knowledge through reading books, watching documentaries, attending workshops and from my mentors. It was during my learning quest that I discovered Jean-Michel Basquiat and have been fascinated with his works ever since.
An extraordinary prodigious talent, Basquiat, synthesised ideas based on his experiences with the world around him, which made him an amazing visual storyteller. His artworks were very expressive, provocative and a lot of thought were put into them, prompting people to immediately connect with his pieces.
Boy & Dog in a Johnnypump (circa 1982)
His usage of collages, oils and found objects was his way of expressing art in every way and form. There were no boundaries. Language was also key in Basquiat's works and contrary to what people may think, Basquiat was very well read and his hunger to push information into his paintings in ‘no order’ was simply brilliant.
How has Basquiat inspired me? I believe it is his nonchalance about not having proper training in art and through his own initiative to understand and learn art history by visiting museums, reading, studying the masters, but most of all his effortless style in making art into something accessible to everyone till today.
In this two part exhibition series, a collaboration between Artemis Gallery, Malaysia and three other South East Asian Galleries; Julia Gallery (Taipei), Langgeng Art Foundation (Yogyakarta) and Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery (Manila) under the Asian Contemporary Art Program, I am exploring Basquiat as a human being. He was a very complex individual who suffered from depression, which eventually lead to his early demise at only 27 years of age. A precious life and talent lost to the world forever.
Part 1: Conversation with Basquiat
The painting contemplates the fragility of life and urges us to live every moment to the fullest and embrace ourselves as the unique gift that we are.
I experimented with digital, acrylic, ink and colour pencils and thoroughly enjoyed the process.
Life is indeed like a box of chocolates, you never know what you get. However, I believe with the right encouragement, support, self-love and passion one can overcome any challenge thrown their way. You only have one life. Live it to the fullest. Discard all socially pre-conceived notions on what true success and happiness should be. Your heart is your true north
Wear your crown proudly!
Box of Chocolates
76cm x 61cm
Mixed Media on Canvas
Part 2: Letter to Basquiat
Jean-Michel Basquiat lost his life due to the effects of depression. Depression is crippling. It can transform any healthy individual into a monster within the dis-eased labyrinth of their mind. Your mind becomes a ticking time bomb. The flower represents the soul of the individual. When depression hits, the soul is trapped. This diptych is a mirror of anyone before and after depression sets in. When your mind gets dis-eased, your surroundings become too harsh to handle as well, noted here with the curly lines becoming chaotic. Eventually when left untreated, depression can cause individuals to succumb to addictions that eventually lead to their death. Lives lost, families torn apart and talents gone forever.
Diptych 76cm x 61cm (each)
Acrylic, Ink, Paper and Oil Pastels on Canvas
(Currently on display at Greydea Studio, TTDI, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
The Art Channel : 'Basquiat: Boom for Real' at the Barbican Art Gallery
Jean Michel Basquiat: A Collection of 135 Works