Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Art of Banksy

The kids have gone back to school after the Pesach break and Mister Handmade in Israel is back at work. We had a good week, though times have changed now the kids are older and we only managed one day out when all of us were together. That's fine though. I know it's normal and am glad that they are busy and have their own plans (or perhaps don't want to hang out with Mum and Dad!).
The youngest son and I took ourselves off to see The Art of Banksy, a new temporary exhibition that's come to the coastal city of Herzliya courtesy of Banksy’s former agent Steve Lazarides. Banksy, in case you haven't heard of him, is an England-based graffiti artist, political activist and film director of unverified identity. His street art, executed in a distinctive stencilling technique, is political, satirical, brings a smile or a smirk to your face, and makes you think.
Steve Lazarides and Banksy are both from Bristol in the UK. The two go back many years to the days when Lazarides took photos of Banksy’s work for the now-defunct Sleazenation magazine. These days Lazarides owns galleries in London and in Newcastle, and is recognised as a key figure in bringing street art into galleries. Several years ago, he realised that many of his clients owned Banksy works, some of which had never been seen by the public, and the idea of doing a retrospective took hold.
The Art of Banksy is not a Banksy-endorsed display (Lazarides and Banksy parted ways in 2008 in unexplained circumstances and an exhibition is not in keeping with the artist’s ethos) but it still contains about 80 original works from Lazarides’s collection plus other private collections.
All the pieces included in The Art of Banksy exhibition are original works, as well as limited edition screen prints and photographs of some of his most iconic pieces located overseas. We saw 'Girl with Balloon' – a work that appeared on London’s South Bank in 2002, and then took on a life of it’s own, becoming a symbol of the #WithSyria campaign in 2014 when the image was projected onto the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Nelson's Column in London (and later, a tattoo on Justin Bieber’s forearm). Then it was onwards to thought-provoking pieces like 'Bomb Love' (2003) and 'Flying Copper' (2003). There was the deeply poignant 'Burger King' (2006) and an acrylic on tarpaulin original of 'Rage, Flower Thrower' (2003). This iconic stencil illustration first appeared in Beit Sahour, a Palestinian town east of Bethlehem. The subject, who appears to be involved in a riot, wears a handkerchief and backwards cap and is depicted armed with a bouquet of flowers instead of a Molotov cocktail. 
Rats are a recurring theme among Banksy's works. Though he has not offered any interpretation of his works, his rat stencils are said to be inspired by Blek Le Rat, a Parisian street artist who stencilled iconic images in the streets of Paris beginning in the 1980s.
The imposing 'Flag Wall' - the large-scale stencil piece that debuted at his 2006 'Barely Legal' exhibition in Los Angeles and shot him to fame in the US was there, and 'Laugh Now' (2002), which features a sandwich board-wearing monkey stencilled in black and white standing upright, as would a human being. While its eyes are not visible, it is clear from the hang of its head, the slope of its shoulders and the downturned corners of its mouth that this monkey feels rather downtrodden. The full text of the sign board reads, "Laugh now, but one day well be in charge". The original piece sold at a 2008 Bonhams' Urban Art sale for nearly $500,000.  
From small pieces to wall murals and statues, the exhibition represents a wide range of Banksy's artistic styles, and includes three pieces that have never been publicly exhibited. My son and I found it to be an interesting introduction to Bansky's work, though it helped that I am British and could understand some of the irony and political commentary. 'Tesco Bag Flag Tesco Generation' is a perfect example of this. The scene in this piece shows three children giving respect to a hastily lifted Tesco bag that flies like a flag in the breeze. One boy hoists the Tesco plastic bag as the other two children salute the makeshift icon as if saluting the British flag. Tesco is a British grocery and general merchandise retailer, and the irony of Banksy's piece may have been lost on some of the Israeli visitors to the exhibition. Banksy does not offer any interpretation to his works and so there were no stories behind each piece.
Famous (or infamous) for his humorous take on the human condition and the state of the world, Banksy has drawn attention to some deep issues. While some may consider him to be a vandal, violating public space with his blunt messages, others view him as an artistic mastermind who has found a way to make people listen to what he has to say. I tend to be in the latter camp. I find his work fascinating. It's clever, has meaning behind it and it makes you think.
What do you think of Banksy?


Mami Made It said...

Thank you for bringing this impressing exhibition to us. I am with you when you say it is clever and has a deep meaning. I know some pictures and now I have some informations about the artist.

Tamar SB said...

So cool!!

Tom said...

...a revolutionary artist, thanks for sharing.

Miss Val's Creations said...

His work is so interesting. I love how Banksy does not explain the pieces leaving them open for the viewer's interpretation.

restlessjo said...

I hadn't realised there was such a huge body of work, Lisa. I did find myself Banksy spotting when I was in Bristol a couple of years ago. Some of it is very clever and it sounds like an interesting exhibition. Thanks for all the details. :)

csuhpat1 said...

Very beautiful work. Thanks for sharing.

Sara - Villa Emilia said...

Not my cup of tea, I'm afraid. :)
I loved reading your informative post though.
Have a lovely day! <3

Jackie Mc Guinness said...

I am a huge Banksy fan and a bigger fan of street art! Ask my husband, as we drive around places looking for more and more!

Sharon Wagner said...

The Grimm reaper with a smiley face is my favorite!

Michelle said...

Banksy is a favorite of mine. I enjoy his work and find it very clever. I would LOVE to see an exhibition of his work. Thank you for linking up and I hope to see you back next week!

molly said...

I love Banksy work. I think we need more subversive artists like him. maybe now more than ever


Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I took time to embiggen' some of the smaller photos ... you are certainly right, he does make you think! Glad his former friend didn't print out his thoughts about each piece, preserving what the artist wanted in that way at least. But I would have to say the exhibit is a great thing for the many people who would never see his works at all otherwise.

For most of the pictures, I quickly made my own interpretation (and was happy with myself) but I puzzled over the one with Dorothy and Toto for a long time and left without any satisfactory feeling.-

I enjoyed this gallery tour -- thanks for taking us along.

Jann Olson said...

It is hard to find time to spend with your teens. Glad you were able to!! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, Lisa! He has the mind of an artist (in not caring about status quo or political correctness), but am not sure, even though he gets high prizes for his works, if belongs to art (don't tell your son!). I would categorize him more as media or entertainment. Churchill and the queen made me smile:)

VeggieMummy said...

My daughter is at uni in Bristol and I love spotting Banksy's work. We saw a beautiful one of a rat in London and the council had tried to protect it with a plastic cover. Unfortunately, they failed to seal it along the top. The water had got in and the paint was peeling. Glad that you had a good time. xx

Debbie Roberts - Debs Random Writings said...

Banksy certainly is an enigmatic figure and I hope he stays that way. His works always seem to have a deeper meaning making you wonder about the person behind the art as much as the artwork itself. I would love to see some of his random art daubed on some wall.

Thank you for linking up with the #MMBC.


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