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Purvis Young is among the most exciting and important self-taught artists to have emerged from the 1980’s. He was born in Miami’s Liberty City and grew up on the streets of Overtown. Encouraged and influenced by his Bahamian uncle, Young began creating art as a child, but at age 18, life in the ghetto took a wrong turn and caught up with Purvis when he was arrested for breaking and entering and sentenced to 4 years in the State Prison at Raiford. Upon his rehabilitation and subsequent release, he began selling his works of art as a means of survival.
Purvis Young creates art from a gut instinct, using materials found from the streets of Miami’s inner city. The resulting work constitutes powerful and honest art of the last thirty years. Young’s work expresses his heartfelt concern for his community’s roots and lifelong friends. The abundance of pregnant women populating the neighborhood, the hustle, bustle and chaos in the street, the infusion of boat people, the trucks passing above on the elevated interstate, funerals, celebrations, wars, soldiers and Blues music men populate his oeuvre.
Not only are his images drawn from these streets, but the materials he used are derived from them as well. Purvis Young collects old books, discarded wood, menus, carpet, doors and cardboard to incorporate into and create his art. The worn refuse has an emotional energy that reinforces the themes of his work. His painterly style, coupled with sweeping brushstrokes, lend an aura of tumult and an energy and passion to his work. Despite or perhaps because of his rudimentary scholastic art training, Purvis Young’s work is fueled by his emotions, combining the power, struggle, anguish, spirit and passion of his City. The resulting art speaks with such force and directness that Purvis Young’s appeal transcends the world of Self-Taught, propelling his works to the highest levels of the Contemporary Art World.