Last week, Grades 11/12 Mentor visual art students went to the Art Gallery of Ontario to see the first major exhibition in Canada of Jean – Michel Basquiat’s work. This Neo-Expressionist was the “it” artist of the 1980s and as a child of Haitian and Porto Rican parents explored issues of race, religion, and politics. At 20 years old he had risen from living rough to world fame painting in a child-like word laden street art style. Here is what some students had to say about their experience:
“They were not just paintings and sketches in a gallery. They were symbols of the reformation towards equality. It was inspiring to see his work.”
Natalie Schill and Tala Alkhaldi
“Initially, the pictures were confusing, disorderly and seemed to make no sense. Yet through explanation and interpretation we came to see that each artwork was packed with symbolism, and had a deeper meaning. It was truly amazing.”
“The art does not give Basquait’s message justice in my opinion. It is the symbolism and meaning behind the layers of paint that make him a genius.”
One of the activities students were asked to explore was to make a page of random studies in their sketchbooks of any part of any Basquiat painting they saw – resulting in a scribbled form of visual note-taking.
Image by Julia Kim. See more of the students’ work here.