Julian Gaines - New Now New York Tuesday, September 28, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Artistic polymath Julian Gaines—also known by his nom-de-guerre, Ju Working on Projects—has made a lasting mark for himself at the intersection of art and culture. The Chicago-born, Oregon-based artist and designer recently debuted a solo exhibition, Painting the Blueprint, at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects in New York, but has long been a force in the cultural sphere. Gaines, who played football in at Northern Michigan University while studying painting, drawing, and design, collaborated with Nike on a line of custom Air Force 1 sneakers that blend “aesthetics and athletics.” His work as a painter, though, has generated equal acclaim and is collected by such prominent figures as rapper Rick Ross. 


    The present work, Ben Wilson, 2021, was completed for Gaines’ exhibition at Steven Harvey Fine Arts. Espousing Gaines’ “New Black History” ethos that spotlights influential but underappreciated figures who have impacted Black American history, each work features individuals who have made a difference, including Malcolm X and James Baldwin. Ben Wilson depicts the eponymous high school basketball player, a legend in his native Chicago, who was killed in a 1984 altercation. Gaines strives to pay tribute to figures like Wilson who have been affected by the racial inequities of contemporary America; four of the five works depict individuals who lost their lives to a climate of racial violence. Despite its morose subject, Ben Wilson offers an optimistic and uplifting tribute to Wilson as Gaines paints him “how [he thinks he'd] want to be remembered.”1
    Follow Julian Gaines on Instagram.

    1 Ross Dwyer, “Ju Working on Projects Debuts “Painting the Blueprint” Solo Show”, Hypebeast, July 29, 2021, online

    • Description

      Please note that the seller will be donating a portion of the proceeds from this artwork’s sale to benefit Project Backboard. Project Backboard is a 501(c)(3) organization that seeks to strengthen communities, encourage multi-generational play, and inspire people to think more critically and creatively. The organization will use proceeds from the sale to develop a public basketball court in Haiti, and they intend to donate a portion of proceeds from the sale of this lot to earthquake relief efforts there.

    • Provenance

      Courtesy of the Artist

    • Exhibited

      New York, Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, Julian Gaines: Painting the Blueprint, July 28–September 3, 2021

    • Literature

      Ross Dwyer, "Ju Working on Projects Debuts "Painting the Blueprint" Solo Show," Hypebeast, July 29, 2021, online (Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, New York, 2021, installation view illustrated)

THE CROSSOVER: Property Sold to Benefit Project Backboard


Ben Wilson

signed, inscribed and dated ""BENJI" (2021) Julian" on the reverse
acrylic and graphite on unstretched canvas
59 x 45 3/4 in. (149.9 x 116.2 cm)
Executed in 2021.

Full Cataloguing

$15,000 - 20,000 

Sold for $20,160

Contact Specialist

Patrizia Koenig

Head of New Now Sale

212 940 1279


New Now

New York Auction 28 September 2021