In this striking portrait of Mohammed Ali, one of the greatest heavyweight fighters of his generation, graffiti artist Mr. Brainwash shows only the fighter's head, and it's as though it is about to explode - eyes wide open, mouth agape, clearly screaming. You can just hear him hurling some of his favorite taunts (and there were many) like, "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
Mohammed Ali was almost as well known for his rants as he was for his boxing prowess, and Mr. Brainwash chose to portray him verbally sparring, rather than physically sparring with gloves in the boxing ring. Clearly Mr. Brainwash found this aspect of Mohammed Ali's personality and talents to be the more interesting, perhaps because it's about mind games, not physical games, and Mr. Brainwash himself loves mind games, as abundantly exhibited in his art.
This poster is also interesting because the artist took what looks to be a black and white photo of Mohammed Ali's face and scribbled graffiti on it and in the background. This graffiti (used often by the artist in his portraits) adds an element of agitation to this poster, in keeping with the contorted appearance of the face and in keeping with Mohammed Ali's personality. Mohammed Ali was a complicated person, in and out of the boxing ring, and this poster certainly conveys this.
“Mr. Brainwash” is the name adopted by street artist Thierry Guetta (b. 1966). Using his signature Pop Art style, Mr. Brainwash infuses his art with social commentary and blends images of famous people of the past with cultural symbols of today. His often subversive style is frequently infused with humor and sometimes has a lighthearted, almost prankish, tone, as clearly reflected in his choice of "Mr. Brainwash" as his professional name.
Mr. Brainwash's other famous portraits have included those of Einstein, John Lennon, Charlie Chaplin, Madonna and Bob Dylan, to name just a few. Along with Banksy and Shepard Fairey, Mr. Brainwash has risen to prominence as one of the most famous contemporary street artists of today. French born, Mr. Brainwash is based in Los Angeles, with exhibits of his work displayed throughout the world.
If you like your art to scream at you, then you'll love this poster!