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