“The startling wit of his juxtapositions can throw a beam of recognition on the events surrounding.”
– Rene Ricard, poet and artist
Here Basquiat pairs individuals and objects in ambiguous relationships to evoke tension and challenge perceptions. Basquiat is often said to have existed in two worlds—as an “insider-outsider.” For the artist, however, the notion of duality was complex, related not just to his own identity but also to social systems of wealth and class.
In these works, Basquiat recasts ideas of black and white, dark and light, questioning conventions and defying perceptions of good and evil. Some of his paintings reveal deep-seated conflicts, while others offer images of companionship. By combining disparate elements in a single work of art, Basquiat also suggests that opposing forces can be united to create a whole.