Artwork: My God Wears a Durag by Nic[o] Brierre Aziz

“I’d rather get out of jail than get $1,000,000” :: Nic[o] Brierre Aziz

On View :: Sat. Feb. 11th, 2023 - Sun. Mar. 26th, 2023
Instagram:: @nicoelganso

Prior to the term “art” being defined as “skill resulting from learning or practice” in 13th-century Middle English (which was in turn derived from the Latin ars meaning “skill” or “craft,”), art in communities such as Ifẹ̀ (an ancient Yoruba city in southwest Nigeria) was simply a translation of a feeling or experience into a physical object to be shared with others — sometimes having a royal or spiritual significance. Through this lens, art was understood without the pretense of pseudo-superior thought and existence. Unfortunately today, institutions such as “museums” exist as some of the wealthiest entities in the world from the looting of artifacts from Africa – and “art” exists as a multi-trillion dollar unregulated industry rooted in imperial-induced greed and elitism. 

Conversations around the “value” of art made by artists who identify and/or are identified as Black in the Americas are impossible to have without referencing museums, looting and Jean-Michel Basquiat – an artist who was destroyed by the industry’s demons but in 2017 posthumously set the record for the most expensive work ever sold at auction by an American artist. This record is still maintained and his works and being continue to make him one of the most renowned and influential artists in human history. During his years as an artist and pop cultural icon, Basquiat often made work and spoke about the toxicities of the “art” industry along with the mental implications that these dynamics had on him. Despite his volume regarding these aspects in his speech and artworks, this is a part of his narrative that does not receive as much attention as others – especially when his works are interpreted. 

With “I’d Rather Get Out Of Jail Than Get $1,000,000”, artist Nic[o] Brierre Aziz presents his first solo exhibition featuring an array of works which relate to his inquiry of Blackness as a construct, experience and a colonial-capitalist tool. The exhibition’s title, which is pulled from a phrase written by Basquiat in his personal notebooks numerous times during his life, additionally illuminates Aziz’s personal experiences and perpetual questioning of “value” along with his conflicts and fears of falling in deeper love with something that is such a beautiful dark twisted fantasy.

Featured Image:

Nic Brierre Aziz
My God Wears A Durag
Durag, church pew, video 
Variable dimensions