Thanks to Westside Gunn, Griselda’s reign over the rap game extended into the art world. After using artwork as his creative album covers, Gunn finally brought his talent to Miami for his Art Basel debut.
Just before 10pm on opening night (December 2), founder Griselda went to Diesel gallery in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood for his first art exhibition, Vivian at Art Basel. He stepped onto the red carpet with his family by his side: his daughter, Pootie, his grandmother, and of course, Claire – who appeared on the cover of Griselda 2019 WWCD album. He wore a black coat full of multicolored scorpions as a collection of diamond-encrusted necklaces glittered around his neck. His daughter, Westside Pootie, had a big smile on her face as she stood beside him, and the rest of their family followed closely behind. Gunn is ready to showcase his collection of artworks – most of which are inspired by the 305.
“I come to Art Basel as a collector,” says Gunn of his first Basel exhibition. “Not as a designer, not as a curator. So it’s kind of surreal. ”
In the venue’s outdoor area, D’ussé-sourced cocktails and delicious snacks float around, as visuals play on the walls – including a video of Virgil Abloh too try. Days after his death, Gunn knew he had to include the legendary designer, who had worked with him on a number of projects over the past few years.
“Virgil is one of those guys who is like a real brother to me backstage. He’s the one who brought me to Paris in the first place – I’ve never even left the country, man. The reason why I went to Paris was because of Virgil,” Gunn recalls. “Virgil played my song at the Off White show. Virgil dressed me for fashion week. Just inspired by all of that, I went to the studio and did the first half of Pray for Paris in Paris, as it began as an EP. Candlestick Pray for Paris Made in Paris, and all because of Virgil. He did the cover. All.”
Gunn’s inaugural art exhibition, which shares the same name with a song outside the album 2016 FLYGOD, originally meant as a pop-up clothing store that has evolved into a vibrant showcase of Buffalo’s unique taste for art, sports, music, and fashion. Using masterpieces created by Mariella Angela and Isaac Pelayo, Gunn curated artwork dedicated to Miami celebrities – like Angela’s version of DJ Khaled, veteran rappers Trick Daddy and Uncle Luke , Maison Margiela owner Renzo Russo, Miami Heat owner Pat Riley, and the legendary late Dolphin Trainer Don Shula.
“When we started talking, the plan was expanded, and I said, ‘Okay, we’re going to do something bigger,’ ‘ Gunn said. “I gave [Mariella] a list of more than ten people that I thought of in Miami. So grow up as a [Buffalo] Bills fan, I think of Marino. I think about Shula. Turn off rip! But then I also think [Rick] Ross. I think about Khaled. I think about Luke. These are the people I think of when I think of Miami.”
“I try to learn everything about my subjects because I try to put their soul into the picture,” says Mariella. “I can’t draw a complete stranger. I had to get to know them, find out who they were. I watch how they engage a photo that I can clone into a portrait. ”
Gunn also presents paintings dedicated to other inspirational legends such as LeBron James, the late Dolph, and Vivian Blake’s own Jamaican Shower Owner, crafted by Issac Pelayo. Since Dolph is his favorite rapper, Gunn said the posthumous painting will never be for sale. However, Blake’s portrait serves as the face of the exhibition.
“I think about Vivian Blake of the Shower Posse and what they did,” explains Gunn. “Everybody knows I love gangsta stories, just from the streets of Buffalo. Street legends are the people we idolize. It comes with territory. So when I [made FLYGOD’s] “Vivian at Art Basel,” I thought. “That’s right.” The song is beautiful. The musical instruments are beautiful. You can playback that song. It was perfect, and everything was the way it should be.”
Pelayo is the mastermind behind Griselda’s signature third-eye images, which became his niche after giving 2Pac a third eye in one of his early paintings. Not only did he help create Supreme Bientele and Hitler Wearing Hermes cover, but he also lent a hand to make Armani Ceasar’s album cover for his labelmate Liz.
“I think for some people who can understand art and appreciate it, they can look at it from an artistic point of view and create a meaning that fosters a deeper conversation than rap and art,” says Pelayo. art. “[Westside Gunn] is a true art collector. He’s doing this like he’s doing it. He is an artist himself. He is a manager and a director, and no one can take that away from him.”
Angela and Pelayo both had at least five days to create their artworks for the exhibition. Same goes for Yagi Sensei, who helped design one-of-a-kind merchandise based on classic Miami sports teams like the Miami Heat, Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes. Every t-shirt, jeans, sweater, jacket and hat features bleach stains and a unique ‘GXFR’ embroidery. Although the time is short, but everyone can pull out to put on a great exhibition.
Westside Gunn’s Vivian At The Art Basel closed with a special concert at the Esquina De Abuela near Wynwood. The show featured DJ Heron, DJ Exes, Gunn and other special guests like Smoke DZA along with rappers Miami Legacy and Fayn.
As for what’s next, Fly God is set on Griselda’s roster of artists like Conway The Machine, Benny The Butcher, Boldy James and Armani Caesar, and his newest artists Rome Streetz and Stove God Cooks . But his work as an art curator will continue. Gunn aims to bring his event to other cities across the country with custom outfits and clothes inspired by the legends he reveres in each town.
“I want to spread the art culture, the fashion culture and give back to the people who have given me so much. I also want to do a tour, of course. We have Rome Streetz, Stove God, Boldy, Armani – these are all new faces in the Griselda brand. I look forward to breaking these artists. That’s my challenge right now: make them the biggest they can be as a family. ”
https://www.billboard.com/music/rb-hip-hop/westside-gunn-art-basel-interview-1235007632/ Talks Art Basel, Virgil Abloh and more – Billboard