A highly desirable early Banksy work, Laugh Now was released as a limited edition screen print series of 150 signed and 600 unsigned prints, and 69 signed Artist’s Proofs in 2003 after the original spray-painted canvas in 2000.
The uncanny image depicts a monkey, rendered in heavily saturated monochrome palette, holding a sandwich board that reads ‘Laugh now but one day we’ll be in charge’. The painting first appeared in a nightclub in Brighton in 2002, before being released as a screen print. Banksy’s use of symbolism in this work is open to interpretation: he often uses animals to represent the ‘common man’, exploited and oppressed by the authorities and capitalism. Monkeys are also widely regarded as distant relatives of humans and one of the most intelligent animals on the planet, which imbues this ominous figure with a sense of prophetic depth. The sandwich board carries similar connotations of either the homeless, or the ‘prophets of doom’, who preach about conspiracies and the coming apocalypse to passers-by on busy urban streets. The artwork suggests that one day a whole hidden society of the oppressed will rise up to those in charge, which can be read as both a threat and or a promise.