Though it is now 2016, we cannot fail to remember all of the amazing artwork and artists we encountered in Miami at Art Basel this last December.
December 3-5, 2015, SprATX had the privilege of attending the 3-day art and concert series at Art Basel Miami Beach, an event curated by Grammy Award-winning Swizz Beatz and Barcardi to showcase both visual and musical up-and-coming artists. The first part of the show included a No Commission Art Fair. The fair threw out the industry norms and truly lived up to its name, allowing artists to exhibit at no cost and to take home 100% of their sales. The second element of the show, the Barcardi Untamable House Party, became one of the week’s most talked about parties with performances by Alicia Keys, DMX, Wiz Khalifa and Swizz Beatz, himself.
“It’s by the artist, for the artist, with the people,” Swizz told Billboard. “And I think a lot of people forgot the message of why they’re even going down to Basel. You’re going down to Basel because there are amazing, creative artists who took a lot of time out of their lives to put together some masterpieces and hope for entry in a great collection or for somebody to be inspired. And not taking anything away from Basel or from the galleries, but I just chose to do something different. And I think the world needs more powerful collaborations that are willing to push the envelope and not really follow the necessary rules that are laid out.”
After drooling over incredible works by Miss Van, Swoon, D*Face, and KAW—to name just a few (complete visual artist list at the end), we had the pleasure of chatting with BK The Artist, one of the exhibitors.
Take a look at our interview with BK The Artist
Q: Who are you? Where did you come from? And how did you get here [No Commission Art Basel 2015]?
A: My name is Brian Kirhagis, also known as BK the Artist. I’m from Baltimore, Maryland, and I came here because this is what I was supposed to do with my life. I’m just following the path that I feel I am supposed to be on.
Q: Where do you call home now?
A: Interesting question. You know, I’ve spent about 50% of my life back home in Baltimore, and about 50% of my life in New York. I do very much feel at home in both places, but at the same I don’t really feel the need to have an anchor or a home because of the message behind my art, that being— no map on a line can make you a different human than me, therefore I’m from everywhere.
Q: When did you first realize you were an artist?
A: I do not remember a time when I did not think of myself as an artist. My parents tell stories about how even as a young boy I would draw on the walls or grab my mom’s make-up. It’s like this inherent need to just create.
Q: You were self-taught, correct?
A: Yes, absolutely. Everything about my style, even the way I paint, is derived from being self-taught. Not really knowing what I was doing, not really understanding art supplies, yet it was going to find its way out of me somehow.
Q: What are your top 3 favorite artists?
A: Salvador Dali is my greatest inspiration. Pablo Picasso because of the career path he took and the boundaries that he pushed, those are things I would love to emulate. And ironically, I love Basquiat. Some people wonder if he was really as much as he has escalated to be. I think just to see the success that he was able to achieve that was within an arm’s length of my life. It was always something where I said, “If he did it, I know I can do it.”
Q: Describe yourself in just 3 words.
A: Gratitude. Gratitude. Gratitude. The greatest feeling that we can have is gratitude. All of the other virtues, honor, loyalty, love—all of those things are derived from the ability to be grateful.
Q: What would be your dream project?
A: I’m actually working on something right now that fits that description, called the FAFSA Exhibition. People are familiar with the FAFSA form, something most college students, aspiring young minds, have to fill out. Ironically, this form tells you how much education you are able to afford. The more I learn about the world, education and knowledge are the most pivotal point that we all share. Talk about racism, or injustices in society, or the differences in financial classes—all of this comes from education. But sadly education is segregated through finance.
The exhibition I came up with is Fundamental Art Fixing Society’s Ailments (It’s a play off the acronym). Think about the quote, ‘if you give a man a fish he eats for a day; if you teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime.’ It’s so interesting in all those college grad classrooms, where they teach this stuff, a human teaching a human. But, it might cost $75,000 and filling out that form to even get into that classroom. Even so, when that man leaves the classroom, the knowledge he gained is now in his head. He doesn’t need the desk and the Ivy League classroom to teach it.
So my dream has always been to extrapolate that idea out into a full tour across the country and internationally, done in 4 semesters—just like a college curriculum. I want to talk about all of the things in textbooks that are conveniently left out, all the things about history that are skipped over because it’s more convenient or easier to swallow or stomach. I really want to allow a person to have the education that I feel is hidden from them and that allows us to be at odds in society. It even goes back to gratitude. If people could understand the real history of the world and where we all come from, why our skin is different colors, and issues such as racism, hate, police brutality, and the prison system—everything that we deal with. It really is a solution to it.
So my dream would be to use my gift as an education tool to help change the world by making knowledge accessible.
Q: What is Art Basel to you?
A: It’s the Super Bowl. If you are making waves and making noise in the art world, you descend here in December to see what everybody is doing. It’s my second time being here, and I was adamant about not participating as a fan. I wanted to come here and be a part of the experience that people were coming to see.
“It was an honor to attend the No Commission Art Show Art Basel 2015 and spend some quality time with BK. We are grateful to have seen so many impressive works and to support a showcase that supports the creative economy.” -Molly Sue Mahoney
COMPLETE LIST OF VISUAL ARTISTS:
- BK The Artist
- Clint Jenkins
- David Choong Lee
- Derrick Adams
- Doze Green
- Dustin Yellin
- Eddie Colla
- Gabriel Dawe
- The Gordon Parks Foundation
- Gregory Siff
- Hebru Brantley
- Hyon Gyon
- Jaybo Monk
- Jerome Lagarrigue
- Jill Greenberg
- Kehinde Wiley
- Lyle Owerko
- Michael Kagan
- Michael Vasquez
- Mickalene Thomas
- Miss Van
- Sandra Chevrier
- Sanford Biggers
- Sean HRT
- Shepard Fairey
- So Youn Lee
- Sue Tsai
- Timothy Buwalda
- Todd James
- Tomokazu Matsuyama
- Zio Zigler