1xRUN Thru Interview
Basquiat by Amar Stewart
1xRun: Tell us a little bit about this piece, is the original still for sale?
Amar Stewart: This painting was actually displayed during my artist residency at The Cotton Candy Machine (CCM). On the opening night this Basquiat painting along with a portrait of Nelson Mandela and Snoop Dogg were in storage as they weren’t part of my Hip Hop Royalty collection that was on display. Around 2 hours into the opening the 3 paintings were stolen from the storage room by a group of guys who came to the event. Sean Leonard, Co-owner of CCM ran out of the space and found one guy waiting by a dumpster to be picked up with the giant Basquiat painting. After a mad chase between Leonard and the thief the painting was recovered and the guy was arrested and charged with grand larceny. The other two paintings are still missing. You can see, hear and watch all the coverage at CCM’s blog. Yes, the original is still available.
1xRun: Was this piece part of a recent theme, series or show that you had?
Amar Stewart: This piece was part of an icon series I was working on in London around Spring 2013. It wasn’t for a particular show it was just a piece that I wanted to paint.
1xRun: When was this piece drawn and created and with what materials?
Amar Stewart: This piece was created in the spring of 2013 using oil on canvas.
1xRun: Tell us how the idea and execution came about?
Amar Stewart: The idea of this piece was really to pay tribute to one of the greats. I wanted to experiment with the piece and have fun with such a large piece. From start to finish I spent around 3 weeks on this piece.
1xRun: What is unique about this piece?
Amar Stewart: It’s a pretty loose and expressive painting. He went through tough times and I try to get that message across in this painting.
1xRun: Why should people buy this print?
Amar Stewart: Because someone stole the original painting from the opening of my show and we managed to get it back. Pretty crazy story.
1xRun: Describe this piece in one gut reaction word.
Amar Stewart: Strong.
1xRun: When did you first start making art? What was your first piece?
Amar Stewart: In my bedroom around the age of 4. I think my first piece was a silhouette of New York City.
1xRun: What artists inspired you early on? What artists inspire you now?
Amar Stewart: Early on there were so many, Rembrandt, Francisco Goya, Diego Velazquez just to name a few. As for now, it’s the same, but I am also a big fan of Chloe Early (pictured below.)
1xRun: Do you listen to music while you work? If so what?
Amar Stewart: It’s a must. I can’t work without music. HipHop, Jazz, Funk, Soul, Metal…you name it.
1xRun: If you could collaborate with any living artist who would it be and why? Any deceased artists?
Amar Stewart: Retna. I think he is a genius. I am instantly drawn to anything that dude does. What he and El Mac have done will go down in history. For the latter it would be Frans Hals. I’m not even sure if I could collaborate with him but I would just want to be his student.
1xRun: What was the first piece of art that you bought? Do you still have it? The last?
Amar Stewart: The first was a small original piece by Saber (MSK). I curated a show for him in London a few years back and picked it up from him then. I can’t even remember the last.
1xRun: Any big shows or events coming up that you’d like to share?
Amar Stewart: I have a show in August at Public Barber in San Francisco that will be a continuation of Hip Hop Royalty and another in Norway early 2015.