When art can still move audiences decades after its creation, it becomes timeless. It denotes the oratory nature of the artist, to put on canvas the stories occurring around them/to them and leave room for the audience to see themselves. To me, there is so much power in that narrative. When the artist lets themselves be a vessel to create pieces that reflect the times, whether good or bad.
I had the pleasure of seeing the Art Gallery of Ontario’s exhibit Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now Is The Time last night and I’m still processing a lot of what I saw. I spent two hours viewing Jean-Michel’s work and that still wasn’t enough time. Another trip is already planned.
‘Provocative. Ground-breaking. Powerful.’ are just some of the words used to describe Jean-Michel’s work. He was influenced by jazz, hip hop, graffiti and African culture which is all visible in his captivating work. The duality in his work stood out to me the most. There is a social consciousness and commentary in many of his pieces, that is still relevant to this day. From modern slavery, police brutality, commercialization of black art, mistreatment of immigrant workers, etc.
A lot of his work was done 34 years ago and it made me wonder ‘how far or how little have we come?’ Although he died very young at 27 years old, he has made a huge impact in the art world. Its unfortunate that while he was alive, his work didn’t receive as much attention as it does now.
I didn’t take any pictures not only because you’re not permitted to, but I want to encourage those of you in Toronto to go and take in his work for yourself.