Saturday, June 7, 2014

Brilliant Basquiat

 “A Next Loin And/Or” (1982)
Oil and Acrylic on Canvas
Jean-Michel Basquiat

I wanted Basquiat for my birthday and I got him.  I went to see this painting in Houston at The Menil Collection. It’s the first time I got to see one of his paintings in person! Titled “A Next Loin And/Or” (1982). It was a large gallery sized painting, at least 40 or 50 inches. Maybe only artists will understand, but as an artist when you get to see the works of your favorite artists, it is a moving experience, an almost religious experience. They are your family. They know. I went there not knowing which painting I would be seeing, I only knew they had one of his paintings. It was in the farthest room from the entrance, in the back corner, past the Picassos, the Magrittes, the Warhols. Either because they don’t feel his work is important enough to put in the front or because it is so popular that they want you to walk past all the other paintings first so you will see everything. Either way I find it curious, and I think Basquiat would find it amusing. At first I thought it was painted with oil pastel because the lines are unbroken but then I realized he painted it with the oil paint straight out of the tube, using the tube as his “brush”. So most of the color was primary, very vibrant. No picture can do it justice. It was stunning.

When I saw it tears welled up in my eyes. I wanted to just sit on the floor in front of the painting and take it in and let tears roll down my cheeks. But here is the studious docent with her hands behind her back guarding the paintings and keeping watch out of the corner of her eye. Several people milled around. No picture taking allowed. I had to just take it with me in my heart….

You see, artist or not there is something for all of us to learn from this painting, this artist. I think he is the greatest artist of my lifetime. He is the Picasso of my lifetime. Here is his painting among all the pristinely painted paintings of many great artists. But it stands out among them, screaming and screaming to be heard and seen. What a freakin brilliant genius. It makes no apologies. It says, “Here I am. Take it or leave it”. It says, “Don’t try to be somebody else. Be yourself. Be different”. That’s how you become great. That’s where the greatness lies. I freakin love him for that.

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