On Nov. 28th, 2021, one of my favorite contemporary artists -- Virgil Abloh -- passed away.
I started actively following Virgil in 2019. His name came to my attention when the ICA in Boston was planning a multi-year exhibition series around Virgil and Sterling Ruby.
But as soon as covid-19 broke out, all the events & exhibitions got paused and pushed back.
I wanted to see their live event, but that turned into a virtual session. That didn't deter me though; I found a way to attend it, "front and center."
It was at this particular virtual session that peaked my interest for Virgil. He was so down to earth and genuine-spirited. He was joyful and passionate about his world, but also grounded in the portrayal of his feelings. Most importantly, he was methodical in describing his work process and his day-to-day as a designer, artist, DJ and businessman.
This description of him, was what made me feel connected to his artistic vision and personally empowered me. Being into a lot of different things and having a creative + systematic mind can open many doors, but it can also be very confusing and isolating. I often feel like I'm floating in midair and don't feel like I belong in one place because I naturally gravitate towards the blending of many different ideas & domains.
Virgil, in his multi-faceted approach to art & design, made me feel comfortable in my skin.
From then on, I read and watched a lot of youtube videos about him. I learned about his past, his schooling, and the connections he had to certain people in the industry that opened doors for him. It was incredibly enlightening; the path he took and the path he created for himself.
While there was a period of time when contemporary art (early 2000's to 2010s) felt unclear and unappealing to me given their simplistic approach, Virgil opened up the gates to high contemporary art that embodied the true nature of our social and cultural times today.
His curator-minded approach to fashion and art is, what I think, makes him incredibly special as a contemporary artist of our generation. He was able to combine the "highs" and the "lows." He created "newness" by putting unlikely juxtaposition of ideas next to each other. He made what felt "tacky" and "ordinary" into timeless art. While his works (clothing, sculptures and mixed-media art) are visually colorful, stimulating and maximal (at times), his concepts were succinct, simple and nuanced.