Two murals paying homage to late American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat materialised over last weekend (16-17 September). Their appearance coincides with the first large-scale exhibition of Basquiat in the UK, ‘Boom for Real’, which opens at the Barbican on Thursday (21 September).
Alternately revered and reviled by his critics for his statement-making work, Banksy’s latest creations could be seen to mock the forthcoming Basquiat show. One mural depicts a ferris wheel with its carriages replaced by Basquiat’s crown motif and a cluster of patrons queuing to purchase their tickets for the ride.
In the second work, two Metropolitan police officers pat down and question a figure of a boy inspired by Basquiat’s 1982 piece, ‘Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump’. It appears to comment on the controversial use of stop and search tactics by the police for which black British citizens are statistically more likely to be targeted than their white counterparts.
Banksy verified the authenticity of the two works on his Instagram account. He captioned the ferris wheel image with ‘Major new Basquiat show opens at the Barbican – a place that is normally very keen to clean any graffiti from its walls’. The comment accompanying the police mural reads ‘Portrait of Basquiat being welcomed by the Metropolitan Police – an (unofficial) collaboration with the new Basquiat show’.
Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1960 and formed part of graffiti duo SAMO. The Barbican exhibition lauds him as a ‘pioneering prodigy of the 1980s downtown New York art scene’. The self-taught artist, musician and poet tragically died in 1988 from a suspected heroin overdose.