Last night, the rapper stopped by the booth to see himself reimagined as a time-traveling muse IRL. Though Benjida took photos of him a few years back, she told office it felt like their first real meeting.
"He didn’t even know it was me behind the account,” she said of that initial encounter. “I just asked him if I could take his photo.”
But last night, amidst all the Art Basel craziness, the two finally got to bond over their digital new wave high art collab. “He said he actually learned a lot about classical art from reading the captions on the photos I used of him and the comparisons [to paintings],” she told us. That was really cool.”
How the @youngthugaspaintings Instagram start?
I remember it being really late at night and I didn’t know what to do for my school project. But this one photo of him laying on the car reminded me of [Botticelli’s] “The Birth of Venus” painting. And you can see in that shoot, there were classical elements—the environment reminded me of the painting. I just started seeing similarities between his photos and historical art.
Why did you choose Young Thug, specifically?
It’s mostly based on background information about him, like his style, his music, his different flows, the way he dresses and him being so open to try new things in his music and style—it works perfectly with him.
At the time were you more a fan of his music or his look?
Young Thug attended the exhibit last night—was that your first time meeting him?
It felt like the first time and I think he thinks it’s the first time, but I met him for 10 seconds two and a half years ago.
So, last night was when you got to really talk for the first time. What did you two chat about?
I didn’t know what to say! Most of the time, it was him saying, “How did you find these paintings? Do you have a lot of knowledge about stuff like this?” He was like, “I’ve been looking for you, why did it take us three years to meet?” It was crazy.
The comparison of a black contemporary hip-hop artist with the subjects of Renaissance art—which has obvious ties to wealthy, white Europeans—seems like turning the art world as it’s been for so long on its head. Were you conscious of that relationship when you first made the project?
When I started out, I did immediately see it. But I wasn’t trying to do that—it’s just that this is the new high art right now. So, that’s how I see it. It does create an interesting image if you look at European art history.
Also, with the tear-away prints I have in the booth, you can tear away the classical paintings, while it’s a big ‘no’ to touch or be close to real, classical art. But with this, you can take the whole set with you—Thug’s photo and the art. That’s something to think about.
What do you want people take away from this exhibit?
It was very hard to push this to an art fair, and I feel like it’s the place it deserves to be shown. I wanted it to be accessible for everyone—I know a ticket to SCOPE is $40 and if you do a pop-up at a store it’s free, but then you’d have a specific crowd. But this booth opens it to everyone.
‘Young Though As Paintings’ is on view now through December 9 at SCOPE Art Fair in Miami.
Photos courtesy of @youngthugaspaintings.