Poet Ja­cob Sam-La Rose on find­ing in­spi­ra­tion in Basquiat’s art

The Week - Junior - - This Week’s Big Exhibition -

You are per­form­ing new poems in­spired by Basquiat’s work. What do you like about his art? I’m in­spired by the way Basquiat drew from a broad range of ref­er­ences, the way a hip-hop pro­ducer might sam­ple from lots of dif­fer­ent kinds of mu­sic.

They look like amaz­ing scrib­bles – but still scrib­bles. Why should we take them as se­ri­ously as paint­ings by the great masters? Basquiat’s work chal­lenged peo­ple to con­sider new pos­si­bil­i­ties for what mas­ter­ful art could be. And if we pay proper at­ten­tion to the paint­ings, how­ever raw they may seem, there’s ev­i­dence of a real

aware­ness of craft and tech­nique.

What do all the sym­bols in his work mean?

That could be the sub­ject of an es­say! Take the three-point crown that he’s known for. It’s a ref­er­ence to graf­fiti, crown­ing the au­thor­ity of the artist. It’s also used in ref­er­ence to mas­ter­ful jazz mu­si­cians. And it’s been sug­gested that the crown is a ref­er­ence to the end cred­its of a car­toon Basquiat was fond of.

What is your favourite thing in the ex­hi­bi­tion? There’s so much to love, but what stays with me is some of the doc­u­men­tary footage. See­ing Basquiat ex­press­ing him­self in his own words, ac­knowl­edg­ing some of his ear­lier naivety, with a bril­liant mix­ture of play­ful­ness and cyn­i­cism.

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