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Artist uses influential rappers in debut exhibition

INSPIRATION: Joshua King with some of his art, which includes a profile of Nipsey Hussle

GROWING UP in west London, Joshua King knew that traditional schooling wasn’t for him – as a born creative, King said he knew that his true love was art.

“In my younger days, I used to write comics and always draw pictures while at school,” he says.

Fast-forward a few years, and King mastered self-promotion via social media to expand his fan base and build his name as an artist: “I started to gather a bit of a following through my Facebook page, at the time I was getting the odd bit of animation work in industry, but nothing like what I do now.

“When Instagram came out was when I started to get attention, I would draw my favourite rappers from the UK. This led to me getting commissioned for the things I’d always wanted to do, like album covers.”

King’s love for music is apparent in his art. His debut exhibition Re-Educated features some of the most recognisable and influential rappers in the UK, but also features some legends less affiliated with British culture.

EQUATION

“I like to use people I’m really inspired by, or people that deliver really positive messages, either through their music, or whether it is spoken, the challenge I give myself is to take their words or lyrics and break it down into an equation.

“Let’s say Frank Sinatra, the famous line, ‘Riding high in April, shot down in May’ – what I do is try to break that down into an equation or a diagram to give it a different narrative, in this instance I might use a graph to show this, but all will be revealed at the show.”

The inspiration behind Re-Educated is to show there are mediums of learning other than school. King says he is trying to teach us life lessons through the art that are not available in day-to-day life.

“Aside from school, I’ve learned a lot about life from films, from music, from friends, and little poems and stories that you hear. This project is about me relaying that to the people in one piece of work,” he tells The Voice.

The British rappers featured in the exhibition include Dizzee Rascal, Kano and Wretch 32 among others. King says he has not chosen these based-on qualities of their music, but rather the importance of their message. Late American cult hero Nipsey Hussle also features, as well as Ms Dynamite and Wiley to complete the UK line-up.

King has also started a collective of artists, called the ‘Chain Gang Collective’ to support each other and support other artists.

He said: “I’ve got a really solid group of friends around me, but none of them are artists, none of them are in the same field as me, and I have issues they can’t relate whatsoever, so we got together to form a little unity where we could bounce ideas off each other and help each other.”

Re-Educated will run until August 18 at Elephant West, 62 Wood Lane, London, W12 7RH. If you would like to see more of Joshua King’s work he is on all social platforms as @jkingtheartist. If you would like to view his art to buy, his website is jkingtheartist.co.uk

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