What Would Julian Rafael Hassan Roden Do?


Jean-Michel Basquiat "Riding With Death" Art Review

People love acting like they're fans of Basquiat until you ask them what's their favorite piece of his and why. Lol. Well mine happens to be "Riding With Death" which he painted late in his life that ended at a tragic 27 years old in 1988. It's very understated and simplistic compared to the rest of his portfolio and that appeals to the Minimalist in me. It's almost a premonition that he would paint such a thing before overdosing on heroin and ending the supernova that was his career. It's said that this painting is a reflection of the catch 22 of his success. On one hand he could feed his family, on the other he could more easily feed his heroin addiction. Regardless of this accurate hypothesis, the genius in this painting lies in the strokes and dull tone of these highlighted subjects. The man and his skeletal horse are not accompanied by any words or conflicting figures. There is only the lazily, painted for coverage background. There's a stillness to this painting. Instead of your thoughts racing to the African Diaspora like the majority of his work, this one evokes self reflection and brings one to come at peace with the inevitable: death. Maybe I'm looking too deeply, but if you were to animate the subjects you'd get a slow stride and strut into an abyss of nothingness. That's just my imagination, you might see a gallop. 

If I could use one word to describe this painting it would be dignified. The analysis he faced not only in life but now in death as even this article proves, Basquiat lived and died free of concern of judgement. I don't think he was the kind of guy to really give a fuck about what you thought of him. This is in spite of the addiction that stigmatized him that was also a part of the man, which you can't separate from the work. He owned his actions and his Art, proudly for what it was. There's a genuineness to this man who lived in search of new highs from all areas of his life. He pushed the boundaries of self expression up until his final days and that why his latest work was always his greatest work and also why I chose to review this piece.

Julian Roden