Banksy's Ballerina CP/03

Year: 2013
Medium: Spray Paint
Dimensions: 40.7 x 30.5cm
Last Hammer: £260,491 (Phillips Hong Kong, 2019)
Signed/Unsigned: Signed
Banksy’s Ballerina CP. A spray paint work of a ballerina dancing with the text “FRAGILE”. Ballerina CP © Banksy 2013
Joe Syer

Joe Syer, Co-Founder & Specialist[email protected]

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In Ballerina CP, Banksy juxtaposes the ephemeral beauty of a ballet dancer with the stark declaration of “FRAGILE”", a visual paradox that captures the transient nature of both art and affection. The 2013 work, a signed original, conveys Banksy's signature stencil technique with a poised ballerina at its heart, embodying the grace of Princess Odette from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.

Ballerina CP: Meaning and Analysis

In the delicate poise of Ballerina CP, Banksy captures a moment of fragile grace, presenting a figure that exudes both strength and susceptibility. The stencilled ballerina, reminiscent of Princess Odette from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, is rendered with a stark simplicity that belies the complexity of its subject. The monochromatic silhouette, poised against the pure white canvas, speaks to the isolation of the character, while the vivid red inscription "FRAGILE" underscores her delicate condition.

Banksy's choice to depict this particular moment from the ballet is revealing. Odette's transformation into a swan – a creature of beauty bound by a curse – parallels the artist's exploration of constraints, be they physical, societal, or emotional. The label "FRAGILE" cuts across the composition, a jarring contrast to the elegance of the dancer. It is as if Banksy is commenting on the inherent vulnerability of love, the fragility of the human condition, and the precariousness of artistic endeavour.

Ballerina CP can be seen as a metaphor for the artist's own secretive existence. Like Odette, who is cursed to live as a swan, Banksy remains cloaked in anonymity, a protective measure that keeps his true identity shrouded. The ballerina's stance, balanced yet precarious, mirrors the artist's own dance with the public – constantly on display yet never fully revealed.

The dichotomy of Ballerina CP, the elegance of the dancer contrasted with the crude stencilled word, also raises questions about the nature of performance, both in ballet and in life. The ballerina is both a performer and a performance, her every move calculated and laden with meaning. Banksy's work asks us to consider the roles we all play, the masks we wear, and the labels that are thrust upon us.

“While Ballerina CP reflects on the physical and emotional constraints artists face, it also invites viewers to contemplate the broader implications of performance and vulnerability in their own lives.”

Joe Syer
Joe Syer,Co-Founder & Specialist,MYArtbroker

Reflections on Banksy's Ballerina CP

Ballerina CP, through its silent yet eloquent expression, invites viewers into a layered dialogue with Banksy's vision, one that transcends the immediate visual impact to touch upon deeper societal reflections. As we dissect the elements that compose this artwork, from the choice of subject to the starkness of its execution, we uncover a narrative that is as much about the art world as it is about the human condition. Banksy's portrayal of Princess Odette, marked by the word “FRAGILE,” serves as a metaphor for the delicate balance between beauty and brittleness that characterises our own lives. This piece, emblematic of Banksy's tenure during his Better Out Than In residency, not only critiques the commodification of art and the pretensions of the art market but also, more subtly, comments on the fragility of identity and the masks we wear.

Ballerina CP: Exhibition History

Italy, BANKSY & FRIENDS, Pop House Gallery 2022

Italy, Jago, Banksy, Tvboy e altre storie controcorrente, Pop House Gallery 2022

Germany, Urban Art Classics, MUCA 2013

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