Barcode Leopard is a spray paint stencil on canvas produced by the street art sensation Banksy in 2002. Coming in an edition size of 5 the artwork depicts a leopard in the foreground of the composition who appears to have escaped from its enclosure. The image is rendered in black and white and captures the essence of Banksy’s street art style which was influenced by other street artists such as Blek Le Rat, Robert Del Naja and Keith Haring.
The cage from which the leopard has just escaped resembles a barcode on wheels. The image can be interpreted as a critique of keeping animals in captivity and the way animals become products in zoos and are exploited as a means of entertaining humans and making money. By rendering the cage in the form of a barcode, Banksy links the enclosure to consumerism and capitalism, imbuing the artwork with a political message. The fact that the leopard is escaping the cage brings a sense of optimism to the artwork as it implies that we can free ourselves from the constraints and power of consumerism and capitalism
The canvas was exhibited at Banksy’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles at the 33 ⅓ Gallery. Banksy continued to exhibit work in Los Angeles and made a name for himself in the United States following his Barely Legal Exhibit in 2006.
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