Virgil Abloh

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320 x 143 cm, oil on canvas, 2018

The combining of different disciplines and production spheres is rooted in Virgil Abloh’s understanding of art. In JCDecaux Abloh subverts the expectation of the viewers and juxtaposes an advertising medium and fine art. An all-black canvas represents a blacked out billboard similar to those the outdoor advertising company JCDecaux uses around the world. Abloh explores the ways in which marketing design conveys a message while referring to Kasimir Malevich’s Black Square paintings, pioneering pieces of abstract art that were made with the intention to depict non figural objects and free the visual arts of representational function. In the case of JCDecaux, the artist invites us to perceive a billboard free of connotations. 

The artist’s signature is presented as a tag on the back of the canvas. Since his teenage years, Abloh has always acknowledged the impact of the underground hip hop and graffiti culture on his artistic development. Abloh used graffiti as part of the design of his furniture as well as of his clothing lines for the high-end brand Louis Vuitton and his own brand Off-White. The connection to graphic design by employing the graffiti font aesthetic is therefore even more apparent and ubiquitous.