Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Jean Basquiat

I am of the opinion that within every image, we can find evidence of narrative. Certain artists use it explicitly and one such example is that of Jean Basquiat. His works (and not only the one illustrated here) form the narrative of thought processes, issues of identity, ethnicity and urban life. Throughout his oeuvre, he utilises the simplified form to formulate symbols which are universally recognisable, thus creating an incredibly strong narrative element. He is telling a story of process with his wildly compulsive and childlike mark-making technique. He also tells us of context in his works which are painted onto walls, doors and furniture and his experience as a grafitti artist is made apparent. Simple, black figures deal with black ethnicity and its supposed connection with primitive art. Tying in with that, there is a strong use of primary colours, re-inforcing a primal narrative as well as the disregard of perspective within the pictorial space. This lack of perspective also has a diagramatic effect, which again, coupled with his use of text, is strongly narrative.

Basquiat's work contains a strong sense that his drawings contain a direct and urgent story that needs to be read immediately, however, his deceptively simple use of diagrammatic pictorial space, is not as straighforward as it appears to be and some research and thinking is required if one is to understand the pieces.

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