|Justin BUA The Artist of New Urban Realism
Justin Bua was born in New York in 1968, the same year in which Stanley Kubrick received an Oscar for his “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Martin Luther King was killed in Memphis and Hendrix released his last album, “Electric Ladyland.” Shortly after that period, an incredible outburst of energy, creativity and violence will make history in the United States. Justin starts drawing at five, encouraged by his mother and his maternal grandfather, both artists and admirers.
BUA: Growing up in the heart of the city the atmosphere was full of energy. I grew up next to a welfare hotel which was home for drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes, but at the same time down the block were m idle class intellectuals walking down the same streets. It was rough growing up there as a kid because I was always getting into trouble or more often trying to get out of trouble. It was a rough city so even the walk from school to home was dangerous. I had to take out-of-the-way streets in order to avoid the hoodlums and muggers and sometimes I got robbed or jumped for my jacket or my sneakers. I remember one time I was robbed for a chocolate bar! The funny thing about that scenario was that while I was getting robbed I remember two cops sitting in their police car laughing at me while my shit was getting vamped. Crazy childhood. NYC in the 70’s was a real urban jungle.
What was vibrating in the air during those years? Which emotions, memories, colors and sounds?
BUA: The city undulated with greys of towering cement, while the traffic grumbled with its own beat. The streets seemed to have a life of their own. There was almost a rhythm of Hip Hop that echoed throughout the architecture. Goethe said that architecture is “frozen music.” Well. If that’s true then the city of New York in the 70’s was defrosted because it seemed to move to its own funky beat. It had a musically and life of its own. I think that now, in retrospect, the birth of Hip Hop could be felt throughout the veins of the streets and in every crack of architecture.
Cultivating his passion for painting, Justin Bua lets himself get overwhelmed by this creative form of expression that was born along the routes of his childhood. He becomes completely absorbed by it.
BUA: I think that the media misinterprets what Hip Hop really is. Most people that think of Hip Hop think of rap music, whether it’s Gansta Rap or it’s Nelly. I think Hip Hop is a state of mind. It’s a mindset that defines the movement. The media has always been about how much profit can we make from this movement. They like to define and categorize a true grass roots culture. That’s why, for example, when an artist is popping or locking they’ll say he’s Breakdancing. Or when someone is breaking they’ll say look he’s Breakdancing. This word comes from the media. We were all B-boying or popping or breaking but we were never Breakdancing. The media defines our culture inappropriately and labels incorrectly.