Magazine cover artwork by painter Justin BUA  


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When this new book came to m y attention, I didn’t k now what to expect.  I have the wonderful job of reviewing the books that come across my desk for the magazine.  We don’t’ review all of them, only the ones.

I was intrigued to find out that BUA is not only an acronym for the name of the Book, but the last name of the author – Justin Bua.  In Thai, Bua means “lotus flower.” In Italian it means “ox,” in Gaelic it means victory and in German Bavarian it means “little boy.”  In my language it means “WOW!”  Is it an art book? A story?  As it runs out, it’s a combination of both.  And it is truly awesome.  Bua’s talent is way, way over the top.  His images capture the spirit of urban life with eerie, uncanny clarity and exactness.

drawing by artist Justin BUA  

I spoke with Justin (although most people just call him Bua), and he told me that the book was a labor of love.  It should be, it is pretty much an autobiography of Justin’s life growing up in urban New York and the crazy characters he knew and saw every day doing crazy things.  He started drawing form a very young age and he had talent from the get go.  He lived in his imagination, and always drawing, drawing, drawing. Drawing was the only consistent thing in his life.  He was a professional break dancer for 8 years and also mastered the art of hip hop – an important movement that grew out of the political climate of the times and captures the energy of the rhythms of street life.

He drew them all – the Jewish intellectuals, the gays, the professionals, the insane.  Per haps as Raphael might have done, were he living in these times.

His Stylized images have meaning and focus.  They’re funky, visceral and reflect the underlying energy of the culture he grew up in.  These were chaotic, vital times and Bua’s art captures the emotions, the flavor, the mood of the crazy, frenzied world of murderers, pimps and social misfits – complicated people who were nice to him and he could see both sides – the dark and the light.

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