Part of the mystique in Ras Kass’ Van Gogh album was its portrait cover. Hip-Hop sees itself as meaningful, like we endear our musical artists. This is why there’s something so visually pleasing in seeing talented painters, photographers, and sculptors devote their energies to Hip-Hop’s beauty.
Charnier Corey is a Fort Wayne, Indiana native who has does just this. With recent gallery showings in New York, the art community is fast learning of Corey’s visions of Hip-Hop, poverty, racism, and innocent beauty in his colorful portraits. Corey’s words are as resonant as his brush-strokes… enjoy.
AllHipHop.com: What motivates your art?
Charnier Corey: Waking up. Just having the opportunity to create. I just don’t take it for granted that you know, just the ability to be an artist. It’s a task that I’ve grown to accept as being a part of me. Every day I create, and as far as motivation it’s natural, I just feel driven to create.
AllHipHop.com: Is there anything you focus on creating in particular?
Charnier Corey: Stuff that I like. When I create I try to satisfy my own creative urges and stay true to my own beliefs.
AllHipHop.com: What made you decide that being an artist was something you wanted to pursue on this level?
Charnier Corey: I feel like to me, I had to stop rejecting that part of me and just embrace who I am. "9 to 5 is how you survive," but I want to grow and do more than just survive. I want to live.
AllHipHop.com: Right now, what would you say was your favorite piece or work you have done?
Charnier Corey: A piece entitled, "For Diego, Eric and Gonzollo on Mexican Day." A portrait of a young Hispanic boy with a cowboy hat. Black boots. It’s got a light blue background. I like the piece for what it means to me, though it kind of stands for more than the portrait. There’s kind of a narrative involved and the story goes like this: Mexican Day is the day before the pool was to be cleaned in the public school/park system in Los Angeles. They would clean the pool one day a week. Mexicans were allowed to swim the pool the day before the cleaning day so in effect the day that the pool was dirtiest, the Mexicans were allowed to swim. So hearing all this racism – because it not only affects Black people, but all people of color, that motivates me and that’s what kinda made me create this piece.
AllHipHop.com: How does Hip-Hop influence your work or does it?
Charnier Corey: Oh most definitely! That was what I listened to growing up and I kinda came of age listening to it.
AllHipHop.com: What was your first memory of Hip-Hop?
Charnier Corey: Da Hah! That was my first or maybe like "Planet Rock." I think Da Hah was my first real Hip-Hop experience in terms of me wanting to be involved in the culture because it was by the Rapping Duke and I don’t know if any body remembers but he was kinda rapping like John Wayne and it was more a mockery or a parody of Hip-Hop but I thought that it was creative, and it showed the music in a creative light and people playing with the form. As an artist, that appealed to me. I thought that was important.
AllHipHop.com: Now as an artist yourself, how does that “playing with the form” reflect itself in your art?
Charnier Corey: I try to push the envelope and play with the paint strokes, create different angles and approaches and make pieces that are enjoyable. My imagery and color schemes are vibrant and celebratory, like having an enjoyable experience because that’s what I’m all about. My portraits are not really deep in terms of abstraction, but my subject matter is playful and uplifting and promote a positive experience.
AllHipHop.com: So you don’t only paint icons, you do capture the essence of the everyday man?
Charnier Corey: I paint family people, loved ones, friends, people I don’t know. I love to paint children in their element having fun and expressing joy because there is an honesty there that people don’t show. Children are a lot more open and real.
AllHipHop.com: If there was one thing you could change about Hip-Hop, what would it be?
Charnier Corey: I wouldn’t change Hip-Hop. I love Hip-Hop, and everything we go through just makes us better. I’m a part of Hip-Hop, so I feel like you know it’s gone through its phases and stages but at the same time it’s brought upon a bigger growth to the point where you can have rappers develop a life time career out of something that was done for recreation.
AllHipHop.com: Favorite Rapper?
Charnier Corey: By far, Jay-Z. I just think he represents a type of ambition; a type of mentality where you just have to make your life what you want it to be. We all have decisions to make but you can’t allow those decisions to limit who it is you want to be. I think he embodies the bigger picture.
AllHipHop.com: One bullet. One Rifle. One Time Machine. And 30 seconds before the cops come. Who do you take out?
Charnier Corey: The cop that killed my brother.
Those interested in Charnier T. Corey can visit www.blackfruitpunch.com or www.nobbq.com