The JMB Connection

Who the flip is JMB?

I asked that same question until approximately 7pm on yesterday (April 5, 2021) when I watched this uber informative mini-doc on his tragically short life. It was something I found on a whim while watching a documentary on Francis Bacon, and it was only then that I finally paid attention to the major Zarry connection with JMB (which a few other Zarries had mentioned in the past.) I highly recommend you watch this doc below if you would like a crash-course on all things JMB.

Firstly, JMB is Jean-Michel Basquiat. That name sounds incredibly French (that’s because his father was Haitian) but he is actually quite American and hailed from Brooklyn, New York. I just find him to be beautiful in that a languid, listless sort of way. Kind of like Zayn. Deeply artistic and enigmatic. I’d like to peel them both like an onion (not like weirdly or sexually or anything…I didn’t mean…eye-)

Now, I must admit: I’m not too big on the art scene, especially contemporary works or Postmodernism. It’s my personal belief that a lot of celebrated art and artists are overrated and the entire concern can come off as a bit pretentious (just like literary fiction.)

With that being said, I also must admit (just being honest with ya’ll) I personally am not a huge fan of JMB’s style of art, which is Neo-expressionism I believe? (Tbh, some of his work just reminds me of the really phucked up and creepy sketches I would draw on my notepads whenever I was idle at school or work. And people calling that crap art would be total bullspit.)

I promise you I’ve drawn something scarily similar to this (and probably better than this) by accident and out of boredom.
Pay me a million dollars to write a bunch of random shit like “pork chops” and “pig sandwiches” on a canvas and watch what I come up with. Please?

But I do understand it’s the life and vision of the artist that informs the art for many people, and thus makes it meaningful. And his work holds powerful significance to a lot of significantly powerful people (with too much money lying around for their own damn good imo.)

This MF down here recently paid 110M dollars for a JMB piece (and I will concede that this is one of JMB’s better pieces—-but it’s still not even worth 100K imo, let alone A HUNNID AND TIN MILLIYONNNN DOLLHAIRS!!!)

I swear to God ya’ll, give me some mushrooms and a couple of sharpies and I promise I got you. Who wants one? Any takers? No? No one? Ok.

I’m kidding, don’t come for me **laughs nervously**

I’m sure I’m missing the bigger picture here, and that all the deep esoteric messages within his work are totally escaping my ignorant self, and that’s ok. Not everyone is smart enough to understand abstract art.

For what it’s worth, I’m also not a fan of Andy Warhol’s work either (JMB’s old bff) but I guess at this point I’m just betraying the fact that I’m an uncultured swine and should stop incriminating myself lol.

Now, on to Zarry!


In December 2014, Harry posted a picture of JMB on his Instagram, and he seemed to fanboy over him out of nowhere. I wasn’t around back then so this is not something I knew about at the time.

Earlier that same year it was reported that Harry had picked up a piece by JMB at around $4M
God damn it Harry, you should’ve come to me first! I was drawing all this weird shit at work around this time, back when I was a prostitute…or bank teller…I can’t remember which. Ugh, JMB is clearly just plagiarizing me at this point.

(But hey, they did say “Harry Stiles” had reportedly purchased this piece, so we may just have the wrong guy here? lol)


Okay…let’s dig into this shiz:

Notice something in the lower left-hand corner of this picture that Harry theoretically purchased in 2014? Yup, a crown. Holy crap do I have a theory for you…

Ugh, the Dark!Zarry, crazed secret boyfriend, art coinsurer, after-hours museum tour, travelling across the world to procure and surprise him with rare pieces from his favorite artist-vibes will definitely be in the sequel of TTUM!


So “the crown” is a well-known motif in JMB’s work. Apparently he first introduced it in a piece known as the “Red Kings” back in 1981.

Since then it appeared sporadically in a ton of his other work.

Alright, cut the shit. What is this?
NGL, this one is pretty sick. It’s gnarly af and I love it!

It should be said that no one really knows exactly what “the crown” represents. I believe JMB may have spoke on it at one point, but I can’t find any concrete or universally accepted explanations that cover all of his paintings in which “the crown” appears. Just loads of intriguing speculation by art-obsessed folks.


Zayn’s crown looks to be most closely related to this untitled piece from 1982 however:

I really like this one too! Gud choyice Zayin!

What’s worth noting about Zayn’s JMB tattoo is the placement, which was undoubtedly strategic. He seems to keep building onto this secret (and highly mysterious) eye tattoo that he started back in 2013. Remember, it started off as their matching Pink Floyd Prism.

Then in early 2014, Zayn added an eye (which looks eerily similar to Harry’s eye) thereby making the tattoo unique, so much so that he wanted to keep the design secret. He wouldn’t even allow the tattoo artist to take a picture of it like he normally does with all his other tattoos. And he conveniently got it on his inner-arm, so very few people ever even knew about this tattoo until after the band.

It’s such a sick tattoo, I must admit. And the mystery surrounding it makes it 1000x more intimate and romantic than if it was…oh ya know, placed in the center of his chest for all the world to observe and for the media to clown about.

(Yes, he had Harry’s eye tattooed in 2014 long before Gigi’s came along in 2018, and he also got the Lotus and the Rose on his skull in 2018 shortly after the Gigi eye tattoo was revealed, probably to appease an upset Harry.)

He first showed his Harry eye tattoo prominently in the November 2015 video for his Fader Cover Story. By then, Zayn knew he was safe and no one would have reasonably drawn a connection back to Harry, even though the tattoo objectively looks very similar to Harry’s eye, whether you ship Zarry or not.

Then by late 2020 (somewhere between late 2018 and late 2020) Zayn added the JMB Crown to this convoluted design, knowing full-well there were rumors that this was Harry’s eye, and knowing full-well how much Harry openly loves JMB.

Here is Harold in 2020 reaffirming his love for JMB to the public, along with the color yellow (twice!) and daises for his Beauty Papers Magazine Cover Story. I kind of wonder if Zayn got his crown tattoo after Harry talking about JMB again in his cover story for Beauty Papers Mag?


It should also be noted that Zayn wore a sweater designed with a JMB painting in December 2020, and I suspect that wasn’t by accident. He wanted to make the JMB connection known to us, which is why he had his arms upraised in his “Better” music video. 🙃 I mentioned the eye tattoo in my analysis video, but completely skipped over the crown because I didn’t know what it was!

My “Better” Analysis (Lots of Zarry!)

Alright, whatever. Bye.

68 thoughts on “The JMB Connection

  1. Took me a while to make the connexion (pun intended). At 1.44.20 into the Grammy Award Premiere Ceremony Ledisi is rewarded for Best Traditional R&B Performance with her beautiful song Anything for you.
    Ledisi is sitting on a green couch with yellow cushions (yes my tin foil hat is probably on). On the wall behind her is a picture of what much resembles a Basquiat crown very similar to Zayns tatoo. Looked up the lyrics to Anything for you, ´cause you know, why not.

    This comment is so long, I hope you approve of it AD.

    The Grammy Award Premier Ceremony:
    https://youtu.be/Du4WMOS2sA

    Lyrics to Anything for you by Ledisi:

    If God took me away today
    I pray I did everything I could to honor you
    And when I open my eyes, there’s joy each day
    What a blessing, I’m waking up next to you
    Your kisses are a sweet surprise
    Still can’t believe you’re in my life
    The impossible is possible because of you
    I will love you past forever
    I’ll do anything for you (I will do anything for you)
    Heart and soul, I
    I’ll do anything for you (you are my life)
    My life (one means us two)
    Yeah, yeah, I’ll do anything
    Anything for you
    Time, don’t wanna waste no more time
    On broken pieces from the past
    We have now, nothing’s better than right now
    I’m committed to you, and you are to me
    Yes, I’ll do what it takes
    Right the wrongs of my mistakes
    You give me air, you give me reason to keep on fighting
    For love like ours is worth it
    I’ll do anything for you (I will do anything for you)
    Whatever, I’ll do anything for you (you are my life)
    You’re my life (One means us two)
    Heart and soul, anything (Anything)
    Anything (Anything for you)
    You will never know (You will never know)
    How far my love will go
    All the sacrifices you made to change my life
    Oh, you mean so much to me (Mean so much to me)
    I wish the world could see all the joy you bring to my life
    I’ll do anything for you (I will do)
    (Anything for you) anything, anything for you (you)
    Baby, I’ll do anything
    Anything for you (you are my life)
    Whatever you ask (one means us two)
    Whatever you want, I will
    I will do anything (anything, anything for you)
    Oh, anything (I will do anything for you)
    Ask me, I’ll do anything (you)
    Anything for you (you are my life)
    You are my world (one means us two)
    You’re my peace of mind (anything)
    Oh, when everything is wrong (anything for you)
    You’re right
    oh, you give me peace of mind
    My everything (you)
    My, my, my, my, my, my, my
    Anything for you (you are my life)
    (One means us two)
    One means us two, oh-ooh (anything)
    Ooh (anything for you)
    Anything for you x 3
    I’ll do anything for you
    Yes, anything, anything for you

  2. AD thank you so much for the article. My introduction to post-expressionism was also made via a documentary on JMB many years ago, before that I was more than ignorant of the subject. Though till this day i think his pieces are way overrated in context of money spending in general. I mean any form of art shouldn’t cost that much when there’s still famine and poverty and other issues that need attention and investments ..period! (i’m not talking about his ideas. Artists’s ideas when sincere can’t be overrated, that’s what art is about, it’s a form of communicating your ideas, concepts. But that doesn’t mean that artist should be famous because of the price tags of his pictures. But I guess that is just the absurdity of modern human civilization – any idea can be sold very well if marketed correctly)
    Side note: I agree that the sculls and overall color palette on NIL cover are definitely inspired by JMB and other post-expressionists.
    Also, Keith Haring is another link to zarry. He was a friend of JBM and they collaborated occasionally, influenced each other’s art, not to mention they both died young around the same time. And I think we all remember Harry wearing Haring’s ‘Safe sex’ t-shirt.

  3. Hey wait wait wait!!!yhe faces in JMB art It’s soooo similiar to zayn’ art of NIL….👀☕

  4. I literally laughed sooo fuckin hard when i read the JMB part…mood😂😂😂😂😂😂💀

    1. yep kinda obvious. Also, another eye on the inner side of the same arm’s wrist – resembles H’s eye a lot

  5. Another comment about JMB…sigh,sorry,I love him…The crown placed above heads and skulls specify and proclaim the battling dichotomies.The interplay between the extremities of life,as I said before,self worth & exclusion,materialism & artistic intellectualism etc.The crown is a symbol of determination of the artist to rise up from obscurity.He was very capable of understanding anatomy (obviously,his art was inspired by Grey’s Anatomy) and history,so obviously,crowns meant the two sides of society to him.During imperialistic periods,while their was massive wealth amassed by The Royals who built places like The Louvre (Lorde teases🤪),their was immense suffering for the common public who toiled their ways.It wasn’t until the educated middle class,did people start actively participating in eradicating royalty,but even after revolts,for long times,whenever the economies suffered due to presence of autonomy which prevented & weakened collective major decision-makings,the royals gained power again,and the cycle continued until the time wealthy sections were successful in forming a largely capitalist society,who were again,practically the royalty without the tags,and the cycle kept continuing.
    Here I realise that I haven’t spoken a bit about Z or H in this comment💀
    It wouldn’t be pretentious if I say Z or H aren’t affected by such thinking.Z,though might not be an active participant in talking about politics,however,if you read Zoems,you find that there are immense political influences & opinions in there.Both of them have come from middle class backgrounds,they definitely understand all this,considering their humility.H is a fan of Charles Bukowski who apart from unsuccessful romances & misogyny (😒,the only thing I dislike about such a wonderful writer),has considerable influences of poverty in his writings.And H being a man with lots & lots of money,while also reading about poverty,surely gripped the dichotomies very well.
    AND,about the URINE comment of mine (😭🤣),I realised it was about copper extraction…💀😬.Also,that crowned dinosaur,I read it as,in less words I’ll say,how hugely powerful & popular people also have demons and go through immense self conflicts,but that’s just me.

  6. Following my prior comment,in which I concluded how Zayn specifically chose the ‘crown’ that would serve as a connexion to H in ways more than one.Now I’d want to shed light on the subject of the crown.Majorly,people who believe that it isn’t just about ambition,including me,think,it represents the complex dichotomies inside his head which led him to struggle with his image to himself,first of all.Not many people had problems understanding why an artist with burgeoning self doubt,issues of self acceptance and lack of inner peace would crown himself a King.It was seen as a way for Basquiat to assure himself that he was at the top,the way I feel when I think of Zayn creating Unfxwitable & likes,and writing “Myths call me legend and Imma be one”.
    It is of common belief that the crown was a symbol of ambition,the way Basquiat would make graffitis on walls of economically well off areas to be noticed by the elites,and the way he wanted everyone to notice his thoughts.Even though not many did while he was alive.Zayn incorporating the tattoo close to H’s eye and DSotM would be ultimately a representation of money,ambition but also self doubt.It is a plausible understanding that both of them have & are struggling to find their pace in an industry of lies,games and glamour,for both of them seem to like exposure while also sitting back and searching the purpose of life,especially Harry,who’s relentless drive towards success seems to be quite like Warhol’s.It reminds of the lines “I’m just wishing it’s ambition that got you your position”/“This ain’t my scene,this wasn’t my dream.Off course,it was all yours”,even though Zayn too,post 1D tried to be in the same scene of glamour & exposure before his anxiety crippled him.
    As I’ve always believed,Z & H’s dynamic is much deeper (and also darker) than a regular couple’s would be.They are literally enemies as well as allies,and though we do not find such a complexly contrasting dynamic’s expression in Harry’s music,as of yet,for in Zayn’s words (not exact),H makes it his mission to play games without acting suspicious [“I’m just playing chess and you should try to check without acting suspect.I know,that’s a mission for ya’,sending all good wishes towards ya’.And settling the test without stating the rest” ],so it’s basically unfathomable what really goes on,but these romantic as well artistic connections are a part of their story that they want to express.

    1. this and your previous comment is giving me life. About that deep (and dark) enemy-ally relationship: I’ve been deep down the zarry rabbit hole on ig this time and there are some mind blowing theories (crazy unrealistic but entertaining, or genuinely possible but still crazy deep theories; that’s why I come here for some reality, perspective 😅). I saw one explaining Z’s poem from 2018 around Harry’s birthday apparently (I wasn’t around for any of this at the time) accompanied with a drawing where alpha, omega and balance were written down, about how it all comes down to balance, and how they (key word:) challenge each other (they fuel the fires, basically keep each other going, bring out all the potential in each other). The zoems interest me soo much but I sometimes can’t make sense of his lyrics so poems… yeah I will just stick to theories from others haha

      also quick question; where is that quote/lyric/saying about H and chess from?

      1. @incognito commenting,OMG?! Could you link the a/o Zoem?Not sure how after days & months of stalking Zayn’s works I haven’t found it (😓I am OBSESSED with Zayn’s mind).And that line,I’m not sure if it’s about H or who,but it’s from one of his ZOEM of the date Feb 12,2018.

        1. is there a place where zayn’s zoems are compiled?? (i just found the morning zoem on genius lyrics) the idea of him writing literary stuff is really cool

          1. It really is! I couldn’t find a link as to where you can buy it but there is a Zoem Journal on the market apparently 😊

        2. Ooh that wasn’t something from H but one of Z’s poems, alright thanks! Please, his mind blows my mind. But I’m too dumb to understand poems myself, so I will link a ig page where I like to spend my time recently (they go deep, so be selective yourself): https://www.instagram.com/s/aGlnaGxpZ2h0OjE3OTE4OTQ1NzY3MzI0NDEy?story_media_id=2106387128422700075&igshid=137sqaed7mb0q. The thing is I tried to find the poem itself for you but I couldn’t find it anymore, they said Z posted it around H’s 2018 birthday though (with that excerpt of ‘tonight’) so maybe that helps and if not they posted the poem in a earlier post of them so you can find it if you scroll down their page! (@em.zarry btw just in case the link doesn’t work)

      2. Oke I’m totally spamming again but after this one I’m done (for now 😈) bc AD has to let them through and it’s a lot ik so sorry girl I’m having a soft moment 🥲 buttt since we’re talking about zoems… remember that interview during the FOUR promo where Lirry were being typical brothers just done with each other (lol), the one where they talk about traits they look for in a girl and stuff and Liam goes ‘female’ and Harry ‘not that important’ (🙃). So in that same interview if I remember correctly they ask Harry about some things he likes to do and he goes reading poetry, walking on the beach and some more (there was something about horseback riding too I think like ??? and seeping ofc); apart from the major ‘let me’ vibes this gives me, Z releasing a zoem on his b-day back in 2018 along with that song is just so damn romantic. (I can’t remember the name of the interview and only remember snippets cuz they’re such typical weird answers haha)

    2. @BIGmouth regarding your comment about a deeper and darker dynamic, I think you’re right. I was not following One Direction at the time, but during quarantine watched the x-factor videos on YouTube that are focused on One Direction and not that the rest of the group are cavemen, but Harry and Zayn were the only small town teenage boys who liked music, poetry and art and it must have made them really bond with each other. They stared at each other a lot, it’s borderline creepy.

      I think you should find someone who’s the same amount of weird as you, maybe that’s what happened and they’re both pretty quirky, too. I tend to think of them as I would friends in a relationship and what Zayn said about the Grammy’s did seem mean and if Harry was my friend, I’d say, “Run, girl, run!”, but I don’t think that’s their dynamic. I like art, but I love music and if someone wrote a song about me and then ran over me with my own car, I would forgive them.

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