Inside George Clinton’s radical visual art, Funk’s godfather


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George Clinton is not just Funk’s godfather.

Certainly, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 (along with 15 other members of parliament — Funkadelic, the iconic garment he founded) in recognition of the unbreakable groove he had woven into modern cultural fabric. And in the 65 years since he launched his doo-wop group, Parliaments, while straightening his hair at a barber shop in Plainfield, New Jersey, Clinton innovated lush sound influenced by science fiction with Parliament-Funkadelic, released ten acclaimed studio albums as a standalone artist, and has contributed dozens of albums and songs, working with everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Snoop Dogg to the Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar.

He is so esteemed among his musical peers that he and Parliament-Funkadelic received the Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2019.

But the 79-year-old’s reach extends far from music, infiltrating pop culture, film, fashion, and more. On Thursday, September 17, the legendary funkmaster will introduce fans to his visual-artistic practice, taking viewers on a tour of his home studio and recent works during a virtual interview to be presented by the Pérez Art Museum Miami.

“Like everyone else, the lock made me think about how COVID has been sitting quietly all of us long enough to differentiate, deprogram, and calibrate,” Clinton explains of her latest venture. “Next thing I know, I’m infected with relentless creative notions, delighted with the random display of all sorts of bugs, biological entities and various viruses.”

With his series “Lockdown”, a collection of combined media on canvas created during the pandemic, the artist offers visual representations of numerous thoughts, feelings and emotions, presenting where we have been, where we are and where Funk is. ”

Reminiscent of his music, Clinton’s visuals are “all about rhythm.” In tandem with the moment they were created, the pieces explore everything from group thinking and spreading misinformation – a form of what Clinton called “Social Engineering, Anarchy” – Induced Chaos (SEAIC) ”-“ biological malware ”and the Black Lives Matter movement .. (Last month, the man who wrote the million-dollar hit“ One Nation Under a Groove ”held out hope in March in Washington.)

“The art of music enables us to explore and express various concepts that help us find our way in life. Visual arts do the same thing, ”says Clinton New Times. “With the rhythm, you need to dance what we have to go through, you could dance underwater and not get wet.”

While the “Lockdown” series is new, it’s by no means the artist’s first breakthrough into the visual media. The iconic parent stage prop Mothership he created for Parliament-Funkadelic is on permanent display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC

“Filling a ton of drawings has naturally led to a canvas filling over the decades,” Clinton says.

His works, which, like his music, are based on science fiction, unusual fashion, psychedelia and surreal humor, have been exhibited in Los Angeles, Chicago, Art Basel and Tokyo, among others.

“The creative way of thinking is a few joints and good music,” he says. “When creative juices start flowing, I’m ready to create in any environment, with or without joints.”

With a blunt here and there, viewers engaging in Clinton’s conversation with PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans can expect an intimate look within the artist’s studio. And for anyone who may be following Clinton further Instagram (and there it is quite prolific), there is a great chance that you will peek first hand at its capricious and growing collection of hand-painted birdhouses. (Anderson Cooper will introduce them in the CNN segment later this month.)

“Nothing is so relaxing and calmer than painting birdhouses,” Clinton insists.

Viewers might also be surprised to learn that Clinton, despite his opus exploding with color, is colorblind. Overton Loyd, a longtime friend and collaborator who created the cover for Parliament’s album The motor booty affair back in 1978 he taught Clinton how to pay attention to tones and values ​​that work well together, regardless of hue.

“Unlike the way tones, values ​​and harmonies work in music,” Clinton notes.

Loyd also places tubes of paint on the table with specific sections, arranged from “warm” to “cold”. This helped Clinton intellectually understand color theory, allowing him to paint more “freely and intuitively.”

“Like Warhol and Basquiat, every now and then, [Loyd] it will label one of my pieces in Collab Lab, pushing both of our ideas to another level, ”Clinton says.

A handful of pieces in the “Lockdown” series feature Loyd’s bold, pop-referential caricatures with a signature, which permeate the works with an additional layer of social critique.

“In the midst of anything that could undermine us, more than ever, we need to strain our ability to think,” Clinton says of the all-encompassing inspiration behind “Lockdown,” referring to one of the most prominent pieces of the series. Because, as he reminds us, “It’s still not illegal.”

Live Virtual Art Talk: George Clinton in a Conversation with Franklin Sirmans. 7pm to 9pm Thursday, Sept. 17; pamm.org. Admission is free with RSVP.


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