Back & Forth

Jean Michel Basquiat & No Curves


There are artists who invented languages. Often, their new alphabets popped out, with time, from the emotional guts of the metropolis. Their instrument and their artwork expressively preceded what the rest of the population hadn’t perceived yet. These artists realized, aknowledged, understood first. Expressed later. In a new form.

Jean Michel Basquiat

Jean Michel Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, New York City, in December 1960.
And in Brooklyn, since 1988, Jean Michel Basquiat rests, in Green-Wood Cemetery,
after a life that took him from the metropolitan suburbs of the Big Apple to the most important art galleries in NYC. J.M. Basquiat was the inventor of a new urban alphabet, that went way beyond graffitism, of which he is considered one of the main exponents.
Jean Michel managed, with his artwork, to blend, like an Antan deejay, various levels of various cultures. The Afro American culture, with clear written references to its most important exponents: Cassius Clay, Sugar Ray Robinson, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Dizzie Gillespie. The great masters of painting: see his version of the Gioconda, to start with. His constant research for terms-words-definitions-neologisms to add to his paintings, to fulfil a cultured pinwheel of information on canvas. The stress on “crossed-out” words,
to highlight them, because, as he loved to say over and over: “people are more interested in crossed out words”. Artistic operation, that of his “wordplay”, that characterized him since his first moves, when he was un-known as SAMO, and his sentences left marks on the dirty walls of the New York of the past. There would be many other things to say about JMB. This could be a great exercise to understand his, so complex, figure: asking the price of one of his paintings in a gallery in SoHo, and then going to see his gravestone. In these two violent parameters, both exposed in the Big Apple, is the whole Basquiat.

No Curves

Lack of curves: the rule, precise, to respect, to work with, of this artist named No Curves. Given the planning limit, the artwork is to be built. Every single time. With every single gesture. And then, here’s the alphabet that becomes the instrument, taking from industrial production, available to all pockets, and to all heads. Duct. Tape. Simple as That. The available surface can be of any kind: plexiglass, wall, submarine. Doesn’t matter, at all. The duct tape is transformed into second skin, redefining, redesigning, re-elaborating. Abstraction, Inspiration, Representation, Realization, Action:
Tape, Line, Color, Cut, 45°, Corner. Everything unrolls. Everything sticks.
Everything springs, and re-starts. The cross references of No Curves’ work can be endless.
It depends on the gazing eyes. Fontana’s cut. Bowie’s lightning in Aladdin Sane. The use of duct tape by Marti Guixè in his Football Tape. The lines of the project signed by BIG-Topotek 1-Superflex in Copenhagen, Superkilen.
No Curves found a new language, a rare and precious thing, and masters it, to communicate bluntly, directly, with no-frills and added fats.
To this time.
With his pace.
Overcoming limits.