Grillo, 1984
  • © The estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat / Adagp - Fondation Louis Vuitton / Marc Domage

Featuring a remarkable use of relief and colour, and composed of four panels, "Grillo" (1984) alternates between figurative and abstract approaches.

The first and third panels instantly attract the eye. Two giant figures, one topped with a piece of black wood studded with nails, the other with a gold crown, stand out against the white background which is covered in a collage of signs, drawings and fragments of phrases. A vertical bar bristling with nails separates the first panel from its neighbour, which is a deep green colour, covered in drawings and white patches. The fourth panel is more abstract, featuring a mixture of yellows and greens, edged by a vertical bar covered with nails. The work borrows from the world of graffiti but also evokes, with its use of nails and fragments of texts, the power attributed to symbols, religious objects and fetishes typical of African and Caribbean traditions. Through his references to collage and recycling in the style of Rauschenberg and to the plastic efficiency of the urban world inherited from Warhol, Basquiat demonstrates his ability to transcend different cultural sources and create a personal style brimming with youthful energy.