The work of Gianni Lee, the West Philly-bred artist, was featured at Coachella on Sunday.
His animation, called “Untitled,” was on display on the festival’s main stage during R&B singer Khalid’s set.
“I didn’t necessarily think I was ready to do that,” Lee said, about having his art on one of Coachella’s stages. “I proved myself wrong.”
Lee’s animation played during Khalid’s duet with John Mayer on “Outta My Head.” The animation is a colorful, surreal piece that was inspired by the landscapes between Los Angeles and Coachella, which takes place in Indio, Calif., about two and half hours outside of L.A. “Untitled” is almost reminiscent of the work of Pedro Bell, the artist who created classic album covers for Funkadelic, which also featured human forms in bright settings that beamed with color.
Lee, who’s currently based in Brooklyn, first worked with Khalid on the singer’s album cover for Free Spirit, which features a van that Lee hand-painted and Khalid standing on top of it. A DJ and founder of brand Babylon Cartel, Lee also works in graphic design and fashion alongside his visual art. His career so far has seen a series of breakthroughs over the years — like that time Rihanna wore a Babylon Cartel jacket in 2012, or when i-D hailed him as a “modern day Basquiat” in 2018. The Charter High School for Architecture and Design alum said he took characters from both his fine art paintings and street art and combined them for the festival stage.
His goal, he said, was to elevate images of black people and portray them in an Afrofuturist light: “There’s no limitations to the black experience in art.”
Working in a number of different fields, Lee figures he’s been finding himself, but now his focus is really on growing as a creative across media.