Friday, June 29, 2018

Banksy

June 2018 - Toronto ON

As  huge Banksy fans we made sure to get tickets to this exhibit.

Click here to see a Banksy located here in Toronto.


This touring exhibition is curated by Banksy's former business manager Steve Lazarides, who told a journalist at the time that the show was unauthorized — meaning that it was created without Banksy's consent.


Steve Lazarides was a photographer when he met Bristol graffiti artist Banksy on a shoot. He began selling the artist's works to friends, and together the pair launched the Pictures on Walls website in 2001, selling not just Banksy's work, but that of other street artists. Business thrived, and Lazarides opened his first gallery in London in 2006. He and Banksy parted ways in 2008, but Lazarides continues to tour the artist's work around the world.
According to the exhibition website "The majority of paintings in this exhibition were originally exhibited and sold in some of Banksy’s seminal shows including ‘Turf Wars’ in East London in 2003 and ‘Barely Legal’ in Los Angeles in 2006.



"This is a one of a kind exhibition – you will never again have the opportunity to see so many works in one place. Once the exhibition is over, the artwork will be returned to 40 different art collectors around the world, and the chances that they will be displayed together again in the future are extremely slim,” said Lazarides, on the exhibition's website.



Who Is Banksy? Source

I'm not sure anybody actually knows, but then again I suspect Banksy knows who he is, however the fact that he keeps his identity a secret does add something to his artwork (though when you go around painting on the Israeli security barrier you probably don't want to advertise your identity all that much). However, despite the fact that he does keep his identity a secret, for obvious reasons (though no doubt he has people working with him to produce some rather large works of art, such as the parody of Disneyland), there are some things that we can find out about him.



Well, it seems as if a couple of things happened - first he shifted to stenciling, and secondly he met up with Steve Lazarides who became his publisher and his agent. Yet, it is interesting that unlike many graffiti artists he not only became well known, but he also became an artist in his own right to the point where some of his works would be stolen and then auctioned off for millions of dollars. Actually, the exhibition was quite particular in pointing out that theft is in fact a crime (and that the lollies shouldn't be eaten because they have probably been sitting there for so long that they are no longer edible). However, one thing that is noticeable is that his work, unlike a lot off other graffiti art, is uniquely his.



The other thing is the Banksy brand. Sure, when his art started selling it helped with his image, but unlike a lot of artists he has kept a special image about him - first of all there is that urban graffiti artist image in that he is the hooded individual that nobody actually has any idea of his identity (though no doubt Lazaridis probably has a pretty good idea as to who he is). The other thing is that unlike a lot of urban art, Banksy's work, as well as being unique, also has a form of dark humour about it, but is also very scathing of our modern society - in a way it is anti-capitalist, anti-establishment, and anti-authoritarian - it is graffiti that is more than simply a pretty picture painted by a teenager, it is art in that it is supposed to challenge our perception of the world.



The CCTV Angel, which films viewers at the entrance, explores Banksy’s career-long concern about the surveillance state. It also showcases the range of his artistic ambitions. “It shows people that he uses more than one medium: he’s a sculptor as well as a painter, and an interventionist who can cross all sorts of boundaries as far as his medium is concerned,” says Lazarides.












Click here for more on Pictures on Walls POW.

London's POW, aka Pictures On Walls, the legendary print house and gallery that helped bring Street Art and the likes of Bansky, Paul Insect, Blu, Dran, Antony Micallef and many others to the spotlight ceased trading from 31st December 2017.





When Banksy created the Rude Copper mural, it featured two British police officers, sticking their middle fingers up at the viewer. The duo makes for an incredibly striking and impactful mural on the London street where it first appeared. In 2002, Banksy released Rude Copper as an unsigned print of 250, though in the print only one copper appears. Entirely in black and white and with very little detailing the officer raises his middle finger with an arrogant look upon his face. Interestingly, the officer sports an old fashioned custodian helmet, introduced into the British police force in 1863. Although still worn today, it is largely considered to be the staple of the old ‘Bobby on the Beat’, a local, friendly neighbourhood copper, a sharp contrast to the actions of the officer in the image. Banksy’s scathing opinion of authority and law enforcement can be seen across much of his artwork, and this is no exception.





In one of the first ever screenprints released by Banksy, he takes on law enforcement in a bold and striking way; a landscape piece, which depicts almost thirty military or riot police lined up from left to right, in the middle of them a large military tank, locked and loaded. The piece is entitled Have a Nice Day, which is a hugely ironic sentiment given the menacing nature of the men in riot gear staring out of the canvas. On closer inspection of the piece, it is possible to determine that each of the officers in the picture have their faces obscured with a yellow ‘acid-house’ smiley face, something most commonly associated with 1990s rave culture, but that can actually trace its roots in popular culture back to the 1960s when it was used as a feel-good symbol. Something so innocent and ‘happy’ however, was ripe for subversion and through the decades that followed, the smiley was coopted by various movements ranging from horror films, to serial killers, the Far Right and in popular graphic novel The Watchman - in which it is used to examine the corruption of power - something which is incredibly pertinent to this piece by Banksy, and indeed many of his other images which use the yellow smiley. Have a Nice Day by Banksy was released in 2003 as an unsigned print of 350.



In 2003 Banksy released 600 unsigned prints of Golf Sale, a black and white stencil piece which shows a man purposefully blocking the path of three military tanks. This act of defiance against authority and militarised control is a familiar theme in Banksy artwork and Golf Sale specifically references Tank Man, the iconic photograph taken in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The image shows a peaceful protest against the Chinese government by a single man, bravely standing in front of the tanks, refusing to allow them to pass. In the Golf Sale unsigned print, Banksy includes a placard in the protester’s hand, with the words GOLF SALE printed on it, atop an arrow pointing in the direction of said sale. In what is thought to be one of his first prints, Banksy criticises and mocks both capitalism and warfare, whilst at the same time paying tribute to the anarchists and activists who protest injustices across the world.


Laugh Now, an unsigned screenprint of 600 is a witty stencil from Banksy which actually first appeared in a Brighton nightclub in 2002 before going on to be released as a print the following year. It is a classic Banksy stencil, dripping with satire and dark humour, depicting a monkey, standing upright, wearing a sandwich board (normally associated with preachesr and bringers of doom!) which reads: ‘Laugh Now But One Day We’ll Be In Charge.’ Whether this piece is Banksy’s way of criticising man for his enslavement of his primate cousins or whether it serves as a warning of an impending revolution, we may never know, but it certainly chimes with the Planet of the Apes series of films that chart the rise and evolution of our primate ancestors, as they fight for their rights and respect in a human-dominated world.





Banksy has never been one to shy away from controversial and bold statements, and this signed limited edition piece entitled Queen Victoria is potentially as bold as it might get. Portraying the English monarch sitting on a women’s face, both dressed seductively and clearly engaging in sexual activity Banksy takes inspiration from British Royal history in referencing Queen Victoria’s apparent refusal to believe that lesbianism existed. The bold, sumptuous maroon background in this piece has a certain nobility to it, and with Queen Victoria in all her ceremonial clothing (plus the suspenders and knee-high boots) this piece by Banksy is definitely one to challenge and provoke.





Anonymous British Street Artist Banksy’s original screenprint, Monkey Queen, depicts a monkey wearing all the ornamentation of a Queen -- crown, diamond necklace, and earrings – in front of a background of red, white, blue – just not that of the Union Jack, more the ‘target’ symbol synonymous with Mods. The three colour artwork of the photo-realistic monkey in Banksy’s spray-stencil-style; is reminiscent of his earlier work Laugh Now, in which he prophesizes a society run by our primate cousins. Having a Monkey Queen would be the ultimate in monkeys taking over (as envisaged in Planet of the Apes). This painting first appeared at a youth centre’s club called The Chill Out Zone on Broad Street in Newent in around 2004.




Virgin Mary often just shortened to Toxic Mary, is an early artwork by street artist Banksy that was produced as an unsigned screenprint edition of 600. Toxic Mary was first shown to the public in Banksy's 2003 London exhibition, Turf Wars. It shows the Virgin Mary feeding her infant son, Jesus Christ. It is a striking, bold and controversial piece considered blasphemous by many in religious circles. Though art fans and Banksy collectors simply took the dark humoured piece at face value, speculating that what Banksy is actually passing comment on the relationship between mother and child. However, there is no doubt that we can infer some of Banksy's views in religion from this mother and baby piece. Perhaps that religion can, in fact, be poisonous, and that poison can be passed down through generations, and spread through families and communities. The only other obvious religious piece Banksy is Christ with Shopping Bags, which uses religious iconography to comment on the way we worship capitalism and consumerism.


This artwork is one of British Street Artist Banksy’s most famous, and controversial. The artwork shows a black and white stencilled Jesus, hanging as if from the cross, but from his hands drip shopping bags (from which leaks the only colour in the image – a fluorescent pink reminiscent of blood). This image shows the superficiality and hypocrisy of the modern celebration of Christmas, which is no longer a celebration of Christ and the whole ‘dying for our sins,’ but rather a celebration of consumer culture and Boxing Day bargains. If one reads deeper: the products, which appear to leak and drip like blood from the bags, are often made in conditions approaching, or certified as, slave labour. Moreover, the candy cane and Mickey Mouse icons of the Americanisation of Christmas that started with Coca Cola. The melting of the objects can also be seen to represent the fleeting pleasure they bring. This original, limited edition print was created in 2004, and the background is blocked grey. As a Banksy art, this piece is well-known and is regularly in demand; its relatively low edition size contributes to its desirability – there are just 82 Christ With Shopping Bags signed prints.





Grin Reaper by Banksy is an iconic 2005 signed limited edition screenprint of 300, printed on wove paper. In Banksy’s Grin Reaper, the face of the Reaper has been replaced with a bright yellow ‘smiley face’, associated with 90s rave culture and also used by Banksy in other pieces, such as Flying Copper. Perhaps his regular use of this motif reveals how he spent his time in the early 1990s! This print is black and white, except for the bright yellow of the reaper’s smiling face. The Reaper sits hunched, atop a clock. In his hand, is the Grim Reaper's symbolic scythe and his bare, skeletal feet are swinging over the clock face. The clock reads five minutes to midnight, which leads to speculation that this clock is, in fact, the Doomsday Clock; a visual metaphor representing the likelihood of a human made global catastrophe. The closer the hands get to midnight, the closer we are to the end of civilisation. Although the clock and Reaper are printed only in black and white on a grey background, the black cloak of the reaper is much more painterly than we tend to see with Banksy, giving it a depth of movement and realism often unseen in usual stencilled artworks.



Jack and Jill, released in 2005 is a piece by Banksy which shows two children; a boy in a t-shirt and shorts with a young girl, pigtails in her hair, wearing a polka-dot dress and holding a basket of flowers. They run together in what seems to be an afternoon in the countryside, two children playing in the summer holidays, carefree and innocent. Except that, the two children are wearing bulletproof Police vests. A classic subversion technique employed by Banksy to essentially let the viewer know that all is not what it seems. The blocked cornflower blue background gives the artwork that feeling of freedom, and yet the children are restricted by the bulky vests they wear; is his a comment on the way law enforcement is restricting our freedoms or is Banksy suggesting our children require more protection? Jack and Jill is sometimes known as Police Kids and this was released as an unsigned screen print edition of 200.




Banksy is believed to have created Stop and Search sometime around 2007. Although there appear to be some reincarnations of the work on canvas as well, the dominant form that this work takes is that of the 500 signed and numbered prints released by Banksy in 2007.

Stop and Search presents in monochrome to the viewer, a two-dimensional narrative or storyline with a fairly recognisable Dorothy (the central character of the Wizard of Oz), her dog, Toto, and a police officer wearing blue latex gloves; the only coloured element in Stop and Search. In this emotive piece, we watch the police officer searching through Dorothy’s basket.

It has been suggested this painting relates to the plot of The Wizard of Oz and gives us the suggestion that Dorothy and Toto are being prevented from getting home. The purity and naivety associated with the protagonist in the film is embedded within the piece and only accentuates the absurdity of the search itself. Dorothy is unanimously seen as a character representing innocence and freedom, and yet even she is not free from the menacing influence of the state.



















Often referred to as ‘rocket dog’ the white dog in Banksy’s HMW casually points a bazooka directly into the heart of a 19th century gramophone. In this aesthetically pleasing and simple black and white piece released in 2003, Banksy seems to be commenting on the old fashioned nature of the music industry which he / the dog intends to bring down, with a rocket launcher if necessary! The dog rests the bazooka on his shoulder, propping it up with his right front paw, determined to destroy the old and bring in the new. This visual was originally sprayed onto a wall in Bristol, and then became a print some years later. The exclusive use of block black and white detail in this piece adds to its impact and memorability. It was released as an unsigned edition of 600.





Applause shows two air traffic controllers wearing high-vis jackets, preparing a fighter jet for take off, in front of a black and white photo of a warplane about to take off from a large aircraft carrier. Banksy is renowned for his social and political commentary via his artworks, and Applause is no different: commenting on the media's glamourisation of modern warfare - their attempt to turn war into entertainment; as art imitates life, life imitates art. This piece is an unsigned, limited edition of 350, screenprint and is mostly monochromatic, save for the yellow of the high-visibility vests worn by the air traffic controllers themselves. Another hint of colour comes in the the red of their sign that reads ‘Applause,’ insinuating the viewers watching on the news at home, should clap and celebrate as if it were a cue for the start of a game show.



"I want to meet my true love, for casual sex"


Perhaps my favourite piece.

At seven metres high, this Stained Glass is one of Banksy’s biggest works. It’s also one of his most elusive. “It hasn’t been seen in public since its outing at the MOCA museum in Los Angeles back in 2008,” says Lazarides. That, he says, was the exhibition that turned Banksy into a superstar. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful piece.”









In true museum fashion we "exit through the gift shop".










These Are My Images: Ask Me For Permission Before Using Them!

3 comments:

  1. The word enigma is often thrown around, but I think Banksy is truly one such person. Plenty of his work here in Melbourne, so much it seems that council workers scrubbed some away.

    ReplyDelete