Recaptured Banksy artwork, LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÉ, CABLE TV

banksy paris ave de flandre - liberte egaliste cable tv (june 2018) IMG_2790Photograph of Paris Banksy artwork, LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÉ, CABLE TV (19 March, 2024).

As a part of Underground Paris’ ongoing documentation of street art, here is a recapture of the Paris urban intervention by Banksy, LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÉ, CABLE TV, made in June 2018 on Avenue de Flandre, Paris 19. The artwork, an ironic and cynical reimagining of a historical painting in a contemporary context, challenges viewers to reconsider their perceptions of migration, identity, and power dynamics, and prompts reflection on the complexities of immigration. We take our hats off to the good people of the municipal art preservation and eradication service who risk acid burns to remove everything else, and keep sad-looking over-hyped artworks on our streets.

banksy-paris-napoleon-crossing-the-alps-liberte-egaliste-cable-tvNapoleon Crossing the Alps consists of five equestrian portraits in oil on canvas, depicting Napoleon Bonaparte, painted by the French artist Jacques-Louis David from 1801 to 1805. These renowned paintings portray Napoleon’s journey across the Alps during the Italian campaign of the French Revolutionary Wars. David’s expert portrayal captures Napoleon’s heroic and resolute character, representing his leadership and military prowess. Each painting in the series depicts Napoleon in a commanding stance, displaying strength and confidence as he traverses the rugged terrain. These artworks not only document Napoleon’s historical achievements but also showcase David’s artistic talent and political symbolism of the era. Napoleon Crossing the Alps remains among David’s most revered and enduring artistic accomplishments, cementing Napoleon’s place in history.

The choice of the Great St Bernard Pass as the backdrop for the artwork is significant. Historically, this mountain pass has been a route for migrants and travellers seeking refuge or a better life. By depicting a migrant crossing the Alps, Banksy draws attention to the struggles faced by individuals fleeing conflict, persecution, and economic hardship in their home countries. The image serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges and risks involved in seeking asylum in a foreign land. 

banksy paris ave de flandre - liberte egaliste cable tv (june 2018) IMG_2791

The symbolism of the blowing cape adds depth to the artwork’s message. On one level, the cape serves as a representation of Islamic dress, emphasising the cultural identity of the migrant depicted. At the same time, the cape blowing in the wind obscures the face of the premier consul, symbolising blindness and ignorance. This interpretation suggests that pride and arrogance can blind individuals to the plight of others, preventing them from empathising with those in need. 

banksy paris ave de flandre - liberte egaliste cable tv (june 2018) IMG_2792

Furthermore, the red colour of the cape evokes themes of power and strength traditionally associated with Napoleon. However, in this context, the cape serves as a commentary on the misuse of power and the consequences of unchecked authority. By juxtaposing the figure of the premier consul with the migrant crossing the Alps, Banksy highlights the disparity between those in positions of privilege and those marginalised by society. 

banksy paris ave de flandre - liberte egaliste cable tv (june 2018) IMG_2793

Overall, Banksy’s artwork challenges viewers to reconsider their perceptions of migration, identity, and power dynamics. By reimagining a historical painting in a contemporary context, Banksy prompts reflection on the complexities of immigration and the need for compassion and understanding in addressing global challenges.

paris african immigrant

Visit the website and Instagram of Banksy, here and here.