Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)
Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)

Dos Pajaros

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)
Dos Pajaros
signed, titled and dated on the reverse
acrylic and oilstick on wood
60 x 96in. (152.5 x 244cm.)
Painted in 1985
Mary Boone Gallery, New York.
Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York.
New York, Mary Boone Gallery, 'Jean-Michel Basquiat', Mar. 1985.
Paris, Galerie Enrico Navarra, 'Jean-Michel Basquiat' 1996, no.6 (illustrated in the catalogue p.140).

Lot Essay

When Jean-Michel Basquiat painted 'Dos Pajaros' in 1985, he demonstrated his aptitude to refresh perennial themes with revolutionary iconography.
Basquiat's two ghost-like birds stand out against a waste-ground fence, pronouncing their ridiculously stretched bills in an insolent attitude. The graphic awkwardness of their dark silhouette evokes the free expression of the 'Dazibaos' (Chinese traditional popular poems that are glued on the walls, building large impetuous political diaries) and the nave yet powerful imagery of political manifestos. In this way, the piece of fence appears as a fragment of an immense palisade on which the artist has violently manifested his feelings of panic and urgency.
By mixing the playfulness of comic characters with the menace of Alfred Hitchcock's alarming birds, Basquiat presents his own interpretation of the themes of Good and Evil. The inscriptions 'Bueno' and 'Malo' may emphasize the artist's Puertorican inheritance as well as his lifetime fascination for 'West Side Story', in which the New York rival 'Latino' gangs always balance between the dark and bright side of the street; between love and hate. Basquiat's inclination for Bernstein's musical could be seen as an autobiographic illustration of his own struggle between purity and debauch on the streets of Brooklyn. By creating childlike superheroes in the shape of dirty birds, Basquiat invents a modern Mythology in which protagonists are either positive or negative, and convey the notion that eveyone's personality is divided into extremes.

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