The search for universal memory is the goal of every institution that has the mission to gather together the products of humanity. Precisely, because nature cannot remember or think about itself, we human beings have assumed the task of constructing memory-laden places and objects that not only put off the moment of death, but also endow life with meaning.
Artists are creators of that memory which, linked to itself throughout time delivers to us a portrait of what we have been, what we are and what we will be. Jean Michel Basquiat, protagonist of this singular Anthology for Puerto Rico,is one of those creators who let us glimpse into the mysteries of human time and space.
Graced with an intelligent and brilliant spontaneity, Basquiat, in a very short production of barely 10 years, managed to portray his historical moment with diverse traits, taking upon himself the contradictions of a world fraught with political, social and cultural vertigo and uncertainty. Placed in the uncomfortable position of the stranger in his own land -a New Yorker with Haitian and Puerto Rican ancestry- he went out on the street to show off his being a foreigner, a condition from which he could probe into different scenarios of social injustice, the denouncement of which forced him to develop a new figurative language, that I would call « the Basquiat code », through which he could observe the centers of incomprehension and the paradoxes of his world.
Working in different media, paper offered him a singular surface open to his hurried gesture, to the keen eye of his enthusiasm, to the bravura of h is perplexity. This urgent trace captures well the philosophical turn of Basquiat, who combines in a single pictorial place the line, the word and symbol in order to accomplish an absolutely contemporary language.
But we must point out to the paradox constituted by Basquiat himself as an artist. Fervently devoted to the world of the present, he recognized in the history of art several traveling companions of the importance of Leonardo da Vinci, Magritte, the ancient Greek and Roman sculptors of monuments.
When placing himself within the context of the history of art, he decided to assume the ultimate responsibility of any artist worthy of that name: to capture, in a single stroke the past, the present and the future with his mixed work that destabilize and restate the very notion of time. Standing in the firmest present, Basquiat always found it easy to move wisely towards the past, jotting down minute note, studying the classics, going over their good and their bad things. And, into the future, he aimed his eye towards an art that we could call « the art forthcoming » Maybe that is the best way to describe every stage in Jean-Michel Basquiat’s career: as an art always put off to that future when it will be understood in its unfathomable depth.
This exhibition places Puerto Rico fully along the trends of contemporary art, with one of its beloved sons: Jean-Michel Basquiat.