Blog Post # 28


Basquiat’s notebooks: one entry printed in block letters ‘JUNK AND CIGARETTES’––the ominous words sit starkly on the white page. In another journal entry: ‘It all depends who you are on what street.’ Basquiat was acutely aware of his positioning in the capitalist system––his disturbance and anguish is reflected through his work. In A Panel of Experts (1982) Basquiat self-referentially denotes his place in the capitalist system. He critiques the legacy of slavery in the sugar industry, as well as provocatively drawing parallels between sugar and ‘krak’––aka crack. The word Madonna is crossed out and subsequently all that the pop icon embodies, whilst the name Venus remains intact above––Basquiat’s girlfriend and presumably his great love. Of course, Venus dually conjures the Roman goddess of love, sex and desire. Madonna also connotes the Virgin Mary. Basquiat both challenges and acquiesces to networks of male white power through symbolically referencing consumer society, both revealing a deep loathing of the entire apparatus, as well as depicting his own fraught complicity. Take for example his friendship with Warhol––a vampire who sucked the nubile souls of the talented.

Boundary Speak (Diaries 2013-2021) centrally focuses on reportage of my life’s happenings, notes on readings, phantasms or wild forays, riffs off music or footnotes from poems that take me on a strange journey, ruminations and thought fragments. My outsider artwork is focal on my Re-learn your Alphabet for the Twenty-First Century drawings (some of which are collaborations with my children), my robot series, as well as many other drawings undertaken over the period 2013-2021.