The isolated hero

Untitled (Red Warrior)

The isolated hero is a favoured motif of Jean-Michel Basquiat. These figures often take the form of mysterious, spiritual prophets or fearless warriors, self-assured in the way they confront the viewer directly. There is a distinct connection in Basquiat’s oeuvre between martyrdom, heroism and the artist, and here, the warrior might be interpreted as a self-portrait, the triumphal symbol of the Black artist conquering an unseen oppressor within the image, succeeding in an art world that was predominantly white.