WHO MURKED BASQUIAT

 © Tristan Fewings / Getty Images © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Licensed by Artestar, New York

© Tristan Fewings / Getty Images © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Licensed by Artestar, New York


A Clodhopper has two t-shirts almost worn to threads, one depicting Jean-Michel Basquiat’s ‘Famous Negro Athletes’ (1981) and the other Cassius Clay (1982), we also have on our wall a framed copy of the famed ‘Warhol x Basquiat Paintings’ (1985) exhibition flyer and we overly use ‘#Boom!’ on posts, messages and conversations. So when we received a press release for the first large-scale exhibition in the UK of the artist's work ‘Basquiat: Boom for real’, there was no doubt we would see it. But fortunately A Clodhopper was also asked to do a show on Soho Radio and we were able to interview the exhibition curator Eleanor Nairne. But like with bad news, good news often comes in threes; in addition to all of that we were able to see Gemma Weekes' especially commissioned performance piece ‘Who Murked Basquiat?’. It’s been a lovely month for art, culture and one of our dearest diaspora artists. Boom!


They had this really profound relationship and we have things like this amazing archival material from the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, things that Warhol kept...
— Eleanor Nairne, Curator 'Basquiat, Boom for Real'

‘Basquiat: Boom for real’ is on at the Barbican in London and is remarkable because to this day there is not a single piece of his work in a public collection in the UK. So it was wild to see so many works together, on display, in public but also to see Basquiat's creative process illustrated with an abundance of source material and content the artist drew from. Naturally the exhibition explores his relationship with Andy Warhol, curator Eleanor Nairne said they had aimed to dispel the myth that their relationship was exploitative: “They had this really profound relationship and we have things like this amazing archival material from the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, things that Warhol kept, postcards that Basquiat sent him from Hawaii, his original lease document because he leased his flat from Warhol at Great Jones Street, sketches that they would do of one another in the studio. All of these really kind of intimate objects that speak of a really remarkable friendship” Nairne told A Clodhopper on Soho Radio. Perhaps controversially A Clodhoppers’ view is that the relationship was even more intimate than that, though not often spoken about. a hint to this is illustrated in video outtakes from Andy Warhol TV - Close together the video catches unguarded chats between the two and Warhol says: “You make me smile, you make me move around too much…” the rare bashful musings of a man in love.  


I’VE BEEN INTRIGUED BY JEAN MICHEL BASQUIAT SINCE MY TEENS, FEELING A DEEP CONNECTION WITH HIM AS A PERSON AND WITH HIS PAINTINGS AND MUSIC AND FASHION AND ANGER...
— Gemma Weekes
BLACK WOMAN IN LOVE. WHITE DRESS ON. HER SOULMATE? THIRTY YEARS DEAD
— WHO MURKED BASQUIAT

Coinciding with the exhibition A Clodhopper favourite Gemma Weekes had a preview of her performance piece ‘Who Murked Basquiat?’ at The Camden People's Theatre. Supported by the ‘Artists’ International Development Fund’ the show footnote reads: “Black woman in love. White dress on. Her soulmate? Thirty years dead.” When you arrive Gemma is hunched over on the floor in a white dress among a mess of paints, pillows, a typewriter and a bottle of booze while interdisciplinary artist Nyugen Smith stands in the role of jester/narrator, masked for much of the performance. Still in the development stage the artists worked off the page which didn’t seem to jar with a narrative that raced across Sarah Baartman, coca-cola, blonde Jesus, Basquiat's ‘white’ girlfriends and brilliant moments of call and response including Smith'S sermon style “Amen!” TO THE Audience reply in chorus “Hay-man”! Gemma, who is the critically-acclaimed author of 'Love Me', said Basquiat is her soulmate: “I've been intrigued by Jean Michel Basquiat since my teens, feeling a deep connection  with him as a person and with his paintings and music and fashion and anger; resonating with the conflicting urges he seemed to have of wanting to fit in or take it all or wanting to burn it all down” she wrote in an email. And it seemed to A Clodhopper that in Gemma’s writing of the piece there was a love that traversed and mixed spiritual longing, sexual desire and fraternal protectionism perhaps unsurprisingly, she is portraying a black women in love with a soulmate 30 years dead...The show is still in it’s development and fundraising stage so visit Gemma's site for details. In the meantime “Boom! For Real…” with love, A Clodhopper.

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She's in love. The white dress is on. Her soulmate died thirty years ago. Welcome to the séance where a desperate woman attempts to resurrect the spirit of long-dead artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, whilst raging at the forces that killed him. Written by Gemma Weekes. Performed with Nyugen Smith and live musicians.

@GemmaWeekes | www.gemmaweekes.com | #WhoMurkedBasquiat