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Barcode Shark, 2002


Barcode Shark, 2002
Stencil spray-paint on canvas
43×43 cm (17×17 inches)
Edition of 5
Stencil-signed “BANKSY” on the overlap
Further signed, dated, numbered /5, and inscribed “LA” on the reverse

Existencilism, 33 1/3 Gallery, Los Angeles, 2002

Barcode Shark shows a barcode in the shape of a shark fin in Banksy’s signature stencil-style. This canvas is a predecessor to the popular Barcode Leopard prints that show a leopard breaking out of the cage represented by the barcode, released in 2004 in an edition of 600.
Banksy often employs a monochromatic palette to emphasize his powerful message and this black and white artwork is that signature stencil-style. Since Banksy’s beginnings in graffiti, he has been noted for his social commentary, taking on issues from police brutality, to the refugee crisis, war and animal cruelty. Here Banksy might be commenting on the way in which humans ‘use’ the environment and those creatures within it for their own entertainment or amusement – the most notable example of course, being zoos or sea-parks. The motif of the barcode suggests a critique of consumerism and commercial capitalism, which puts a price tag on everything including animal and human life.
This very rare edition on canvas has been exhibited at the first Banksy solo-show, held in Los Angeles at 33 1/3 Gallery, entitled “Existencilism”. Banksy would come back in 2006 and create history in Los Angeles with his Barely Legal Exhibit.