Banksy's Che Guevara On Skates

Year: 2000
Medium: Spray Paint
Dimensions: 76.5 x 76.5cm
Last Hammer: £556,091 (Christie's New York, 2020)
Signed/Unsigned: Unsigned
Banksy's Che Guevara On Skates. A spray paint work of man on roller skates against a red background.Che Guevara On Skates © Banksy 2000
Joe Syer

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

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In Che Guevara On Skates, Banksy delivers a quintessential fusion of satire and homage, encapsulating the revolutionary spirit of Che Guevara through an unexpected lens of whimsy and motion. Crafted in 2000, this unsigned piece features the Marxist icon reimagined on roller-skates, gliding across a stark red backdrop, a playful nod to both the revolutionary’s enduring symbolism and the artist’s critique of political iconography. Through his iconic stencil technique, Banksy juxtaposes the solemnity of Guevara’s legacy with the lightheartedness of skates, inviting a layered interpretation of activism within the visual vernacular.


Che Guevara On Skates: Meaning & Analysis

At the heart of Che Guevara On Skates lies a critical examination of how icons are perpetually in motion – both literally, in the visual narrative Banksy constructs, and metaphorically, in their meaning and relevance across different epochs. The use of roller-skates, an object emblematic of freedom, movement, and perhaps a touch of irreverence, juxtaposes the static, often sanctified portrayal of political figures in propaganda. This choice introduces a layer of complexity to Guevara's portrayal, suggesting that the revolutionary spirit he embodies is not confined to historical moments but is capable of transcending time, inviting engagement and reinterpretation.

The red emulsion background, a nod to the colour deeply associated with Marxist ideology, captures the essence of Guevara's identity while also engaging with the broader visual language of protest and passion. By retaining the integrity of Guevara's image, Banksy acknowledges the power of this iconography while simultaneously subverting it, encouraging a dialogue on the commodification and domestication of revolutionary symbols in popular culture.

Banksy's work probes the intersection of street art with political activism, recognising Guevara's visage as a beacon for change that has been widely disseminated through graffiti and murals. In placing Guevara on skates, Banksy not only pays homage to the tradition of street art as a medium for social commentary but also posits the adaptability and enduring relevance of such symbols in fostering discourse and reflection within public spaces.

Through Che Guevara On Skates, Banksy invites the audience to consider the mutable nature of icons, the interplay between reverence and satire, and the potential of art to challenge and redefine the narratives surrounding figures entrenched in the collective memory. In this reimagining, Banksy does not diminish Guevara's legacy but enriches it, offering a fresh lens through which to view the intersections of art, movement, and revolution.

“Through this piece, Banksy explores how icons can be revered and critiqued, inviting engagement with the commodification of such symbols and their transformation in popular culture.”

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

Che Guevara On Skates: Artistic Rebellion and Cultural Reflection

The reimagining of Guevara, a figure emblematic of radical change and resistance, on rollerskates , symbolises the perpetual motion of political ideologies and their adaptation to new contexts and generations. This portrayal suggests a fluidity to political icons, underscoring their capacity to inspire beyond the confines of their original time and place. Banksy's choice of medium and method, employing spray paint and stencil, adheres to the traditions of street art, a realm inherently linked with dissent and the democratisation of public space. In this regard, Che Guevara On Skates embodies a dialogue between the past and the present, between the static nature of icons and the dynamic spaces they inhabit.

Che Guevara On Skates: Exhibition History

Bristol, Come on you Reds Eat the Beat Records 2000

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