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“A style of painting, music, or drama in which the artist or writer seeks to
express the inner world of emotion rather than external reality”.

Basquiat was a neo-expressionist artist. This is similar to expressionism,
where artist show emotions rather than reality, as well as raw subject
matter, large scale works and highly textured and expressive brushwork.


Neo-expressionism often includes recognisable objects, such as the

human body, but in an abstract manner. The artwork often involves vivid "I want to make paintings
colours and application of mediums in layers. that look as if they were
made by a child,"
Contrast of colours, rapid brushwork, distorted subject matter and Jean-Michel Basquiat said.
spontaneous techniques (regarding the application of mediums) are His raw, subjective work
other characteristics of neo-expressionism. made him a leading figure
of Neo-Expressionism.

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Untitled (Scull/Skull) (1981)
-Recognisable objects
-Vivid colours
-Contrasting colours
-Expressive or rapid brushwork
-Distorted subject matter


-Symbolism (e.g. crown)

-Mixed mediums
-Thickly applied paint
-Quickly drawn subjects
-Scrawled (hurried) drawn characters
-A link between his upbringing and heritage

Basquiat has extended his arm

upwards, as if in reach for a
Raw subject matter : Basquiat large canvas, to gesture the Expressive application of acrylic
has depicted himself painter that he was. paint and oil stick

Human figure

Self-Portrait, 1982. Acrylic, oil paint-stick, and spray paint on canvas,

76 X 94 inches (193 x 238.8 cm)

Large scale
Inclusion of vivid artwork

Spontaneous /rapid
Overall characteristics:
- layering (painted background and oil stick/
build up of subject matter in the artwork),
-textured and expressive brushwork
-distorted figure
-text/symbols to complete the artwork
Lets take a look at some other expressionist artists...

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Vicki Varvaressos is an Australian contemporary figurative expressionist painter.

A lot of her artwork shows Australian women and their experiences.

Notice the bold colours, somewhat distorted figures, thick brush work and layers in her paint-
ing application. This adds emphasis to her expressionist artistic style.

Arabella in the Woods, 1996

Moonwash, 1994


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David Salle is an American artist. He is known for his painting, print making and photography.
His art style covers both contemporary art and neo-expressionism.

Salle creates collage like paintings, that show different styles, shapes, colours and symbolism in
his work. His artwork also depicts different moods to the viewer.

Like Basquiats artwork, Salles artwork is very much open to interpretation, involves bold
colours, layers and a variety of subject matter..

Latin Rhythms, 2018 Theme for an Aztec Moralist II, 1983

Mingus in Mexico, 1990 Theme for an Aztec Moralist VI, 1983

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-Recognisable objects -Symbolism (eg- crown)

-Vivid colours -Mixed mediums
-Contrasting colours -Text
-Layers -Thickly applied paint
-Texture -Skulls
-Expressive or rapid brushwork -Quickly drawn subjects
-Distorted subject matter -Scrawled (hurried) drawn characters
-A link between his upbringing and heritage

Jean-Michel Basquiat – Hardcover, 1984 Irony of a Negro Policeman, 1981

Victor 25448, 1987

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Use your mood board as inspiration:

Look at what symbols, text and shapes you
would like to incorporate in your artwork.
This mood board is focusing on:
arabic text, simple shapes, symbols (leaves),

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Begin by adding symbolism and text into your Now you can add layers through expressive
sketch. lines, additional symbolism and a distorted
This can be sporadic and “messy”. figure.
Try not to take too much care with the drawing                                /
skill, and instead have some distorted shapes             
and symbols.                 

 ‡   ­     ‹   ƒ  Œ € / PAINT to your final artowrk: you will be able to add vivid colours, thickly
applied paint, distinct layers, expressive and rapid brushwork etc (all through the application of your