Monday, 9 February 2015

Basquiat at the AGO

I knew this was going to be HUGE when First Thursday tickets sold out in less than an hour.  Sadly, I was not one of the lucky ones and had to wait an extra three days to check out the exhibit.  Jean-Michel Basquiat was an artist in New York in the 1980's whose work explored many different taboo themes for the time.  He died at the age of 27, but still managed to create a large body of work that is raw, expressive and beautiful.  The AGO currently has 85 of these pieces on display in their exhibit: "Now's The Time".  

It took us an hour and a half to get through the exhibit.  We lingered at almost every piece as the more we looked at something, the more we discovered.  We could see drawings hidden under a layer of paint, foot prints, pages of books in bedded in globs of paint, lists and things that had been intentionally crossed out.  Why would you add something to a piece just to cross it out?  Basquiat believed that it would stand out more and would demand more attention.  

The exhibit has recurring themes of religion, music, anatomy and racism.  There was one piece that depicted two white police officers beating a black man.  Given the recent occurrences in the United States, it seems as though this piece is as poignant and relevant now as it was 30 years ago.  

I did manage to sneak one photo for you of a few of his smaller drawings.  Why did I choose these?  Well, because when I was a child my cousin drew me a card for my birthday and if you replace boxing with hockey, it looks just like this.  Incredible! 

If you want to challenge your imagination, your preconceived notions and your understanding of art, please go and check this out.  Just plan to have a nap afterwards.  It's exhausting.