Currently on display at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art is Jean-Michel Basquiat's 1982 mixed media piece A Panel of Experts. As is to be expected with Basquiat's work, this piece is filled to the brim with drama, symbolism, and raw emotion.
Much of the fascination with Basquiat's work comes the short and turbulent life which produced it, as his work was often a reflection of his experiences. The characters depicted in A Panel of Experts are deep in conflict, with fists, blood, and, explosions apparent in the canvas. Much of the image almost appears being redacted, it has been covered with such a thick layer of black paint, which has then been used as a surface for names, arrows, and his iconic crown. About the significance of this particular painting, the MMFA writes, "it embodies many of Basquiat’s characteristic subjects and techniques, and also refers to a specific event in the artist’s personal life. The fistfight at the top of the left rectangle is a stick-figure representation of an actual encounter between two women in a New York nightclub: Basquiat’s girlfriend Suzanne Mallouk (nicknamed Venus) and his lover the singer Madonna, who, despite the copyright symbol beside her name, was not yet a celebrity." This suggests the passion and chaos of his life, and its effect on his work.
The opportunity to see Jean-Michel Basquiat's work is one not to be missed, and we hope a visit to this painting is in our future!