From BedStuy to B.I.G.
FROM BEDSTUY TO B.I.G.
65 X 65″ Acrylic on canvas with handmade wood frame, 2013
When I sat down to paint Biggie I already knew there were only a handful of photos to use as reference. Unfortunately because his life was cut so short, we as artists are often forced use this small collection of images over and over again.
As a fan of hip hop, I was aware of the grainy footage of a seventeen year old Christopher Wallace on YouTube, and immediately I set off in Safari to find the video and bring the imagery to life. I watched it over 100 times to catch the perfect moment where his elbow could double as the brim of his hat, for the face hidden in the folds of his shirt. The old pixelated quality allowed me to abstract the background, spectators, and architecture into a melange of shapes and color that tell the story of how a kid from Brooklyn became King.
There are five total Biggies in the composition, including the two mentioned before. A reflective Big Poppa in the lower left inhales smoke that forms another profile in the negative space. This figure surveys the scene of his beginnings, which fades out on the right hand side into Frank White, wearing his crown as the King of New York.