Jean-Michel Basquiat at the AGO

This year, the Art Gallery of Ontario’s blockbuster exhibition is Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time. I braved the cold and saw it last weekend. It was worth the trip.

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ABOVE: Jean-Michel Basquiat, The Death of Michael Stewart, 1983, acrylic and marker on wood,  25 x 30.5 inches, Collection of Nina Clemente.

BELOW: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Obnoxious Liberals, 1982, acrylic, oil stick and spray paint on canvas, 68 x 102 inches, The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection

Last Saturday was a typical winter’s day in Toronto; the weather was total shit. To escape the February blahs, I decided to take in the Art Gallery of Ontario’s (AGO) latest show Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time. As it turned out, half the city was of the same mindset; the place was packed. Over-crowding aside, I’m glad I went.

A great deal of effort went into this exhibition (the AGO consulted with several members from Toronto’s black community) and it shows. The curation is informative but subtle, and it adds to the overall experience without detracting from the art on display.

As for the art, it is often confrontational, and it addresses key issues such as racism, authority and class struggle. Basquiat’s works are political, emotional and experiential, and there’s a ton of integrity within them. I say this because, even if his style isn’t to your taste, there is a lot to take away from this show. If his style is to your taste (it is to mine), then you’ll take away even more.

Basquiat: Now’s the Time is at the AGO until May 10, 2015. I suggest you go.

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