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Graffiti Guy Posing In Front of His Work

February 9, 2009 Art, Contemporary No Comments

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This stunning piece of art titled Graffiti Guy Posing In Front of His Work by Bedri Baykam is being showcased as part of the Contemporart Art Turkish Auction, at Sotheby’s on March 4th, 2009 at their Bond Street location.

Here are the official Catalog notes:

LOT 72

– BEDRI BAYKAM
B. 1957
GRAFFITI GUY POSING IN FRONT OF HIS WORK

40,000—60,000 GBP

MEASUREMENTS
measurements note
140 by 175cm.; 55 1/8 by 69 7/8 in.
DESCRIPTION
 signed and dated 84 acrylic, spray-paint and china ink on canvas
PROVENANCE
 Collection of the Artist 
LITERATURE AND REFERENCES
Exhibition Catalogue, New York, Martin/Molinary Gallery, Bedri Baykam: Art From the Eighties, 1985, p. 23, illustrated in colour
CATALOGUE NOTE
 These days the graffiti art scene is thriving, supported by institutions such as the Tate and the Brooklyn Museum and being traded through some of the most prestigious galleries. It has not always been so, indeed graffiti artists continue to be subjected to censure by local government despite their validation by the artistic establishment. In the United Kingdom in 2008 for instance, five members of the DPM crew were sentenced with up to two years jail time. The milieu in which Bedri Baykam operated in New York was even more rigorous than it is now.

Truly a rebel artist, Bedri Baykam exhibited in a group show, the 30th Salon de Montrouge in Paris, with one of the most notorious graffiti artists of the 80s and 90s, Jean-Michel Basquiat; whose tag SAMO stood for Same Old Shit. Graffiti art as we know it began in New York in the 1970s bombing and tagging trains began as an outlet for frustrated youth in the Bronx and spread throughout the city. By the end of the 70s however the government had severely cracked down on the graffiti artists that roamed New York. This, in combination with restrictions on paint sales and the birth of the city’s crack epidemic, brought the graffiti scene almost to a standstill. Yet it was during this most challenging period that Bedri Baykam brought his own tag to Manhattan, and operated its streets.

Graffiti has always been a means of expression and identity, Baykam’s multi-lingual tagging of phrases in English or Turkish, often reading “meet the Turk,” conveys his flagrant disregard for the establishment through the taunt, a sense of his cultural isolation and is conceptually something of a self-portrait. The incorporation of the tag in this work truly captures the zeitgeist of the early 80s’ street scene: dirt, ink and spray-paint combined with the wild sketchy brushstrokes of the neo-expressionists patently recalls the work of his friends and contemporaries Jean-Michel Basquiat and Julian Schnabel, transporting the viewer to the dangerous crack- and cop-ridden streets of New York in the early 1980s.

Graffiti Guy Posing in Front of His Work, is one of Bedri Baykam’s seminal works. A rare painting from his gritty neo-expressionist period, it is iconic in its documentation of the Graffiti Art movement.

Source: Sotheby’s

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