Accompanying the exhibition “Basquiat. Boom for Real,” a panel discussion will be held at the SCHIRN’s CROWN CLUB on April 12. Taking as their starting point Jean-Michel Basquiat’s ascent in a predominantly white art world, five experts will discuss the recognition and representation of black artists back then and today.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s rapid rise in the art world is astounding given the young age alone at which he was taken into the fold of both the established New York and the international art scene. Basquiat was only in his early 20s when his first solo show opened at the Annina Nosei Gallery in 1982. Yet for the duration of his life, his success as a young artist did nothing to change the fact that he was repeatedly confronted with racist clichés and prejudices. He also addressed these in his works: His paintings tell stories of Western colonialism, the African diaspora and the systematic discrimination of black people.

Basquiat’s international rise as an African-American artist in a predominantly white art world caused a great stir both at the time and today. His first solo show, marking the beginning of a fast-paced career, took place less than 40 years ago. Yet, what is the situation today? What significance does Basquiat’s success have for the recognition and representation of black artists from a contemporary perspective? That is what the experts Greg Tate, Françoise Vergès, Oscar Murillo and Grada Kilomba will be debating in a panel discussion headed by Paul Goodwin. The SCHIRN MAG is introducing them.

Paul Goodwin, London (head of the panel)

Paul Goodwin is Professor of Contemporary Art and Urbanism at the University of Arts, London and Director of the Transnational Art, Identity and Nation Research Centre (TrAIN). In addition, he works as a freelance curator and researcher. His research focuses in particular on black artists since 1980 and transnationalism in contemporary art production. In his interdisciplinary research project “Revisioning Black Urbanism,” from 2006 to 2010 he principally explored topics relating to urbanism and the negotiation of black identity in cities such as London, Lisbon and Paris. For four years, until 2012, Paul Goodwin worked at Tate Britain as a curator for the Cross Cultural Programme, curating exhibitions such as “Migrations: Journeys into British Art” in 2012. Paul Goodwin will be moderating the panel and also participating in the discussion himself.

(c) Paul Goodwin
Greg Tate, New York

Greg Tate is a freelance journalist, art and culture critic, focusing on contemporary black art, music and literature in his texts. His articles have been published in numerous magazines and daily newspapers, including The Village Voice, New York Times, Washington Post, Art Forum and Rolling Stone. The obituary written by Greg Tate, “Nobody Loves a Genius Child: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Flyboy in the Buttermilk,” now numbers among the key texts on Jean-Michel Basquiat and among other things provided the title for his essay collections on contemporary African-American culture, “Flyboy in the Buttermilk” and “Flyboy 2 – The Greg Tate Reader.”

Greg Tate, Photo: Nisha Sondhe, Image via: greg-tate-byNISHA-SONDHE.jpg 

Françoise Vergès, Paris

Journalist and researcher Françoise Vergès was born in Paris and grew up on La Réunion and in Algeria. After leaving high school she returned to Paris, where, following stays in the USA and UK, she now holds the Chair “Global South(s)” at Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme and also teaches at other universities. She has written numerous texts on the history of colonialism and slavery and on cultural legacy, racism and feminism. In 2002 she was a political consultant for documenta 11 and ten years later at the Paris Triennale too, held at Palais de Tokyo. From 2009 until 2012 she was also chairperson of the Comité national pour la mémoire et l’histoire de l’esclavage.

Françoise Vergès, (c) Nicola LoCalzo
Oscar Murillo, London

As a freelance artist, Oscar Murillo works with a wide variety of media including painting, sculpture, installation, video and performance, and principally addresses in his works postcolonialism and cultural legacy. Following his studies at the University of Westminster and then at the Royal College of Art in London, Murillo’s works were shown in several solo exhibitions, recently at Haus der Kunst in Munich in the exhibition “Going Forth: The Institute of Reconciliation” and last year at Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris, as well as at the Yarat Contemporary Art Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan and in 2015 at Museo de Arte de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá.

Oscar Murillo Portrait, Courtesy the artist. Photo (c) Jungwon Kim
Grada Kilomba, Berlin/Lissabon

In her works, artist Grada Kilomba focuses intensely on the topics of racism and postcolonialism, as well as trauma and memory. She interweaves texts she writes herself with her artistic practice, primarily in videos, talks and so-called lecture performances. Her work was recently shown at the Goodman Gallery in Cape Town, following a comprehensive solo show on her oeuvre at MAAT in Lisbon in 2017. Kilomba has been represented with talks and performances at documenta 14, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto and Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. In addition, she has been lecturing at various universities for several years, among others in 2012 as Guest Professor in the Department for Gender Studies at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.


The free Digi­to­rial on the exhibition BASQUIAT. BOOM FOR REAL provides you with back­ground infor­ma­tion about the key exhi­bi­tion aspects. 

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