Details (clockwise): Horatio (1996) from The Green Man; Mr. Heart (2012) from Playing Cards 2nd Round; Pendular A (2013) from Circuits; Perch (2016) from Perch.
Details (clockwise): One,Two,Three (2017) from Mirage II; Blue Foot (1976) from Family Portraits; Pastorale (1983) from Baseball; Yugen #5 (1958) from Basil King's Book Covers
On Basil King Art
“His work is meant to be seen before it is judged, just like Van Gogh’s. Or Soutine. Look at it, see what you see. This work speaks its own story because it’s involved with style… Basil’s figures are painted on, they do not emerge through. He’s an illustrator after appearances, illustrating what he wants but we might not want, to see. This work reflects his point of view his way: he’s the artist, not the apologist.
…We don’t know how brainwashed we are until we see original work like this, that reaches in, grabs hold, and gives our senses a good rattle.” —Fielding Dawson on Basil King’s “Paintings from the Cards”, Granary Gallery, 1989.
“ King could be one of the last urban Romantics. His artwork rejects the principles of realism and irony, and by doing so, King has managed to defy institutionally sanctioned practices that too often fail at encouraging the inventive leaps and original forms that make an imagination singular.” —Tim Keane, “The Language of Devotion,” in Hyperallergic, 2013
“He’s the most genuine, and therefore ultimately important, kind of artist/poet, whose work over many decades is driven by an unquenched actual passion and inner principle we rightly call vision….his prolific and life-embodying work is in no way dependent on the judgment or acceptance or purchase–power of others. It simply has to be, it just goes on, and you can feel that necessity throughout. His thousands of unexhibited works are like a self-contained civilization waiting for visitors.” —George Quasha, at the premiere of the film Basil King: MIRAGE at Anthology Film Archives, September 2012.
“Paint and canvas, lost and found, names to remember, sudden exchanges in recollections. The surreal comes so easily because it arrives inside the (seemingly) mundane, the quiet tones of familiar conversation; but there is Blackburn and there is Cezanne, there are “Baz” King's mother and father too, and Ernest Shakleton who taught him endurance in the environment, and Steve Jonas suddenly calling him JEW JEW; and here is Chaucer, coming along easily: this is the way we have been on the road with Basil King and his colleagues. And here are some theories about painting mixed into an overnight in the bushes of New York City and an ironic encounter with highway policemen in Boston… Basil King the painter/ the gardener/ the poet… join him as he follows the dots.” —Madeline Tiger, “Reactions to Basil King’s Work”, Jacket2 , July 2014.