Updated: Mar 30, 2021
Boxer Rebellion Jean- Michel Basquiat
Date: 1982-83 Style: Contemporary Media: Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board Dimensions: 29 x 39.5in.
Location: Among the collections of Estate Prints
A few weeks ago, my dear and handsome boyfriend asked me if he could make a request for a future blogpost of mine. I was surprised but when he told me who his preferred artist was, I instantly smiled because well to be quite honest, for my boyfriend to have an artist who he really liked, was a cute surprise that made my day.
So after receiving my first ever request, I went and researched Basquiat, I then searched for a work that resonated with me. When learning about a new artist, I personally like to first get a look at their work and find that one piece that makes me think, "yea, I'm gonna have to know what's going on inside your head buddy". Why do I do this? Well simply to first intrigue myself with the artist which will ultimately excite me and make me dive deeper into my personal synopsis of their works.
Bower Rebellion was the piece that caught my attention. When observing this piece from a quick glance, it can seem overwhelming due to all the miscellaneous placement of words, shapes, lines, and color yet when looking closely, at least for me, the words are what made me step back and see everything come together. By stepping back I then felt like everything that Basquiat placed onto the canvas was exactly where it was supposed to be.
Words and phrases such as;
Chinese bower rebellion
Among others, can be read across this piece. But there is one section that contains the words that I exclaimed earlier, caught my immediate attention, and convince me that yes, this is the piece that might allow me to get inside the artist's head.
The words read as the following:
When I read these words, I instantly recalled Genesis 1: 1- 5
The Creation of the World
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Was Basquiat a man of faith? Was he one who saw the creation of the earth and man to be strange or beautiful? Did his curiosity affect his work and ultimately his life choices and perspectives? These are quite the questions if you ask me.
In this piece, there are two boxers with stylized anatomical features exchanging blows and surrounding them, there are words and phrases that are references used in boxing. Around the bowers, color is also placed which helps to liven up the actions that are occurring. To see boxing and a passage that is relatively stating a bible scripture displayed together in a work of art is quite interesting and I interpret this as symbolizing a spiritual battle of sorts. May it be for the solid purpose of entertaining an audience or to represent the spiritual battle that the artist may have been going through while he was working on this piece, the thought or better yet desire of trying to figure it out is brought to the surface.
Jean-Michel Basquiat was a late-1970s New York poet, musician, and graffiti prodigy whose signature painting style consisted of obsessive scribbling, elusive symbols, and diagrams, and because of this, he is often associated with Neo-expressionism. He once said he doesn't think about art while he works but he instead this about life. Taking his statement into account, this teaches viewers that very likely, the next time they observed one of his pieces, there is a message to be uncovered.