To be completely honest, my knowledge of art and the art world is not as extensive as I would like it to be. However, there are a few names out there that I am well aware of, (Jean-Michel) Basquiat being one of them. So when I learned that a Basquiat exhibit was opening up at the Art Gallery of Ontario, you best believe I jumped at the chance to go.
Going on the coldest day of the year (it was about -40 degrees Celsius here in Toronto) the AGO was mine for the viewing. Like I said, my knowledge of Basquiat was not too extensive. However, I’d like to think that was a good thing because that exhibit alone was one that taught and showed me what he was about, what his art was saying, and how incredibly relevant it is 20 some odd years later.
Going through Now's The Time, there were so many different pieces that were up for interpretation that also at the same time had a distinct message. Trust me, I would’ve liked to take pictures of the pieces that stuck out to me but there were signs everywhere to not take any and I was too chicken to try. So instead, I really took in each piece, carefully reading the excerpts that came along with them and came to my own conclusions.
His pieces reflected what was going on in the streets of 1980’s New York City, issues that are still prevalent today. He touched on taboo issues, really pushing the idea of colour and race in the art world and on the streets. Even showing a vulnerable sense of self – someone who was just as lost as he was found. He used certain images in almost each piece, crossing out certain words so people would want to really want to read them. I actually didn’t know this but beyond being an artist, he was a creative in all sense of the word. He was part of his own band, DJ-ed, designed a cover for a hip-hop group, and had collaborations with Andy Warhol. His sense of creativity was off the wall. Seeing that exhibit somehow lit a fire to my own sense of creativity. The way he drew and even the materials he used were quite unorthodox, yet they held such a powerful message. Even the quotes strung out throughout his AGO exhibit were inspiring and mindful as well. The exhibit is open from February 7th to May 10th, so there’s still plenty of time to see it. So trust me when I say it’s an interesting one.