This story was updated at 12:20 p.m. on Sunday, August 8, 2021.
Chattanooga artist Genesis the Greykid is a self-described confident person who believes in his ability to create poetry, music and paintings that resonate with people.
Yet, when a buyer of one of his paintings, "Computer Love," a 60- by 72-inch piece he created as part of his acrylic-and-diamonds-on-canvas series, wanted to put the piece up for auction at London-based Phillips auction house, he had his doubts. Reputation is important in the art world, and he worried that a bad experience, like the work not selling, could harm his.
What if it didn't sell, he wondered.
"I don't know a lot of people in London. If you put this piece up and nobody buys it, am I on the sidewalk? I'm like, what happens? But I'm a spiritual guy. I stay prayed up, and I pray with my feet moving."
Semi-jokingly, he says he even had visions of the auctioneer laughing at the painting and offering to give the piece away for nothing, and then setting it on fire.
He needn't have worried. The piece had a minimum bid of about 9,000 pounds, and before the auction had even started, several people were ready to bid up to $30,000. When the gavel dropped, it sold for $87,000.
Now, Genesis is considering staging a gallery showing and perhaps even opening a gallery in Europe.
"It's opened a lot of new doors," he says.
Genesis created his first diamond-infused piece, called "There Was a Time," at the beginning of the pandemic as a commentary on the juxtaposition on what was important to people at the time. In addition to diamonds, the piece featured pieces of toilet paper and masks.
"That's what was important then. People weren't rushing to the jewelry store," he says.
The diamonds were supplied by London jeweler Jack Moore, who sent him 500 hand-cut round diamonds, each with a minimum of 17 facets cut and polished. Genesis has received more shipments of the gems and continues to create new pieces from his studio off Main Street. Some of his pieces contain words of poetry, and some do not. "Computer Love" has some small print and one large slogan, but each says simply, "Love Wins."
Genesis says he sees, or hears, poetry in almost everything, from conversations with friends to his mother's laughter. Most of his paintings are created by simply turning on some jazz music and seeing what happens. Over the years, he has created art in several genres, including rap, poetry and painting, most recently putting words on canvas in a style he calls "PoAnguardia," a word he made up to define the merging of poetry, painting and art that he creates.
He has done some commissioned pieces, including some coffee tables he painted as part of project he did with basketball great Shaquille O'Neal.
"We sold all of them," he says.
He also paints sneakers for friends and colleagues.
While his goal is to sell his work globally, he has a strong attachment to Chattanooga and says he always will.
"This is home and where I am grounded."
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org at 423-757-6354.
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