• Van Weyenbergh Fine Art

Twitter audience forces an exhibition in Paris to close down immediately because of plagiarism.

Updated: Feb 23, 2019

Galerie Sakura cancels the exhibition "Brut" by Guillaume Verda, because of the growing controversy on Twitter.

"Brut" was planned from February 16 to February 24 in Sakura Gallery, located in 4th arrondissement of Paris. But the blatant resemblance between the works of this 35-year artist and those of Jean-Michel Basquiat provoked indignation on Twitter.

Under the increasing pressure of the web, the gallery announced, yesterday Wednesday, the premature closing of the exhibition. "The story has taken on worrying proportions on social networks. We have received hate messages and significant threats. To ease the tension and for the safety of the customers we decided to cancel the exhibition "explains Jean-Baptiste Simon, director and founder of Sakura Gallery.

Sakura Gallery does not recognize the plagiarism of which the artist is accused; "Of course, there are similarities, the artist does not hide it," says Jean-Baptiste Simon. However no mention of Jean-Michel Basquiat is made, neither on the site of the gallery nor on the website of the artist. The idea of ​​tribute is excluded, leaving open criticism of plagiarism.

"Congratulations cultural appropriation and exotic neologisms. Pitoyable "wrote a user. An anti-racist association and many Internet users have also underlined the unhealthy opportunism of the appropriation of a white French artist from the experience of an African American (notably via the use of African masks in Verda’s paintings ).

We are sorry to have hurt the feelings of some people. We do not want to create controversy and we will no longer work with this artist. It was a first collaboration but we should have inquired more about him upstream, "finally apologizes the gallery director " we have not sold any works and we will not sell them. "

The artist decided to move his Instagram account from public to private, he took away his works from his website and wish to be forgotten.

An Internet campaign, often anonymous, involving an artist, for a reason that can be discussed, leaves a bitter taste.

Verda left - Basquiat right

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