We see the word Plaid repeated again and again in capital letters across the top half of this composition. There is a ladder like shape on the right hand side, with the word Lard written twice besides it. To the left we then find several short sentences with other works encroaching over the top. The words immediately point to the themes of race and history, with the artist pointing to the contributions of Chinese immigrants from 1850. This was typical of the artist in referring to historical examples of colonialism, though normally he would include only the oppression of black people and not concentrate on other races. There is also a reference to how 'settlers' are depicted within hollywood movies, which tended to be fairly stereotypical in his opinion.
Abstract Expressionism was all about leaving behind the formal art world from previous centuries and allowing the subconscious to lead the brush or pencil. It was not about accuracy or precision in repeating something reality, but more about getting in tune with the soul, and creating visual representations of that in whatever ways it came out. Some would throw paint onto canvases, others would produce huge abstract depictions, whilst graffiti was the basis of Basquiat's own approach a few years later. His work was therefore identifiable in some cases, though through the prism of a complex and emotional mind. This openess attracts many, eager to understand more about what lie behind the innovation, and almost pain. We know much more about his life today, and so these artworks can be understood much better within the context of his troubled times.
We all today can enjoy classic artworks such as Philistines, Dos Cabezas and Bird on Money but it would take a long time for Basquiat to achieve international stardom. He came from humble beginnings and this meant it would take longer to reach the summit, as others would have received much more assistance to speed up their own journeys. Despite that, he was still successful and some of these hardships would actually drive some of the content within his work. Many artists over the centuries have used angst and frustrations to drive their own work, particularly when their styles feel into the more expressive of approaches, with Munch and Van Gogh being two of the most obvious, mainstream examples. Basquiat can very much be added to that list and is particularly interesting because many of his issues are still entirely present in society today, several decades later.