Friday, February 22, 2013

Hey Jean-Michel ...

There comes a time, if you are extremely lucky, when your work starts selling for such large amounts of money that only the rich can afford them.  And you are filled with a range of emotions (unbridled joy certainly being one of the first to hit you).

I, to a degree, know what that feels like.  The people I paint -- the Blankfeins, Caynes, Dimons, Fulds of the world -- exist on such an extraordinary plane of wealth and power that, comparatively speaking, I might just as well live in a basement apartment in a shitty neighborhood (even though I actually live in a sun-filled apartment that looks out over a beautiful public square).

Jean-Michel Basquiat profoundly knew what that felt like.  He refers to it constantly in his painting.  Basically, in the blink of an eye, he went from being a raggedy-assed street kid hustling to either/or eat/paint to having more money and attention showered on him than he knew what to do with.  His solution was heroin, and he was dead at 28.

Sad enough in the abstract.  Tragic, if you've just come from looking at the showing of his paintings at the Gagosian Gallery in NYC and the strength of the man's talent is still fresh in the mind.

So, in a nutshell, the painting is both autobiographical and a synthesis of hundreds of artists' ambivalence about the gulf between their lives and the lives of those who buy their work; inspired by the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Prints are, of course, available.

[Brief aside:  At one point, the first paragraph ended with an additional sentence.  It read, more or less, like this: "I can hear the rats fighting in the garbage at night."  Don't know why I took it out.]

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