Friday, May 17, 2013

Boxing With Art

"Round Zero" artists' reception at The Art Directors Club in Manhattan.
Artistic painting and boxing are two activities most wouldn't pair together. But when you think about it, an artist and boxer do share many things in common. 

For starters, to be successful as a painter or boxer, one must have an innate talent. Sure, you can be taught how the direction of paint brush strokes influence the result of artwork. And, you can be taught how to throw a jab or an uppercut.

Though, there’s a difference between a painter who uses technique to enhance their vision, and a painter who uses technique, trying to create a vision. A boxer who follows rehearsed moves over and over again is no match for a boxer whose instinct and agility surpass anything they’ve learned.

Throughout history great artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso and Romare Bearden, to name a few, used their art as a form of social commentary. And, great boxers like Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali had a huge cultural impact on society. The boxer and artist each fight for their talent literally and figuratively. It’s a struggle that draws spectators.

Event poster featuring "Fist" by Taha Clayton

When I attended the artists’ reception for the fine art exhibition “Round Zero” on May 15 at the Art Directors Club in New York City, I saw the merging of the artist and boxer. The latest work of four Brooklyn-based figurative painters Joseph Adolphe, Taha Clayton, Tim Okamura and Jerome Lagarrigue were exhibited as a collection curated by Dexter Wimberly.  The artists used prize fighting as inspiration for their work.

I marveled at the vision each piece of art expressed. From Adolphe’s portrait of Muhammad Ali as a young fighter to Clayton’s painting of a fighter’s wrapped-fist in the air to Okamura’s interpretations of the female boxer to Lagarrigue’s three-part portrait of an actual boxer in training -- the expression of talent in the collection is abundant.

The well-attended reception was definitely a hit. It seemed as if there was a collective enthusiasm for the art and the artists. Living in South Florida, I’ve had the opportunity to attend annual art shows such as SCOPE Miami and PULSE Miami, where I was first introduced to Okamura’s work. The same excitement that exists at these shows, which occur simultaneously with Art Basel in Miami Beach, is the same excitement that filled the Art Directors Club for “Round Zero.”

In addition, artwork created by students from Brotherhood / Sister Sol, a Harlem-based youth organization, was on display at the event. A portion of proceeds will go to the organization.

There was also another layer to the artistic experience. Filmmaker and former amateur boxer Jeff Martini filmed the reception for the upcoming feature, “Heavyweightpaint.” The documentary showcases the four artists and their struggle to navigate the challenges of the art world and their attempt to create the “Round Zero” exhibition. The reception is the culmination of the film project.

Through a Kickstarter campaign, Martini and the artists raised money for the documentary. Further support for the film is welcome, click here.

If “Round Zero” is any indication of what we can expect in “Heavyweightpaint,” it will surely be a knockout.

Check out photos of some of the paintings as well as the film trailer below.

Tim Okamura: "Raw Potential (Slugger)" (detail), oil, mixed media on canvas, 36 x 48, 2012.

Joseph Adolphe: "Ali Forever" 2012 Oil on canvas 80 x 80 in

Jerome Lagarrigue: "Near Martin," 2012-2013, oil on linen 79 x 99 in.

Check out the trailer for "Heavyweightpaint":

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