A picture of an anonymous black figure with glowing eyes. A shadowy, grey background. White funeral lilies, some still blooming, others dead and dry. Candles that have been lit, but their flame has died out. One candle is burning. It sets the American flag above the portrait on fire.
This is the painting that the British artist Banksy released on the 6th of June 2020 in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the worldwide protests following the death of George Floyd.
Being an anonymous artist, Banksy releases his work in the public space. This painting was shown on his Instagram page, accompanied by the text:
“At first, I thought I should just shut up and listen to black people about this issue.
But why would I do that? It’s not their problem. It’s mine.
People of colour are being failed by the system. The white system. Like a broken pipe flooding the apartment of people downstairs. This faulty system is making their life a misery, but it’s not their job to fix it. They can’t – no-one will let them in the apartment upstairs.
This is a white problem. And if white people don’t fix it, someone will have to come upstairs and kick the door in.”
Banksy is known to often address current political themes in his work, such as a wall-painting of an immigrant child during the Venice Biennale 2019, and a painting of a child whose superhero is a nurse, during the Covid-19 crisis.