I had watched the documentary, Banksy Does New York, on an Air Canada flight a couple of years ago and it completely intrigued me. The artist, who has stayed anonymous, has also left his works un-interpreted so the pieces mean whatever the viewer thinks they mean.
When my husband and I were in Park City, Utah last year, we hunted out a Banksy original.
When we heard that there was going to be a Banksy Exhibit coming to Toronto, we immediately put it on our list of things to do this summer.
The show, “The Art of Banksy” is curated by the artist’s former business manager, Steve Lazarides, and all pieces showcased are privately owned.
There is much controversy surrounding the exhibit that made us stop and think about whether we should see it or not. The show is unauthorized by the artist himself meaning he is not the one making a profit off the exhibit nor curating how he would want one to see his art. The show is also housed in an area of town that used to act as host to local artists who were essentially pushed out due to high-rising rent.
In the end, it was an opportunity we could not pass up and we made the most of it.
We got there early so that we were at the front of the line. We quickly walked the full show, snapping photos of our favourite art pieces. We then walked back to the beginning for a second run-through to fully absorb the art by reading the comments and listening to our audio guide. This was the best possible decision we could have made. Within 15 minutes, the gallery was packed with people and it was hard to move freely throughout the space.
The graffiti artist uses satire, subversion, dark humour and irony to create social and political messages. I don’t necessarily agree with his messages, so going to the exhibit and appreciating his work does not mean I support his beliefs.
Here are a few snapshots of the works of art without comments, so that you can interpret for yourself.
Banksy made his name by being a radical street artist that maintained his anonymity throughout the years. His anonymity started due to not wanting to be arrested, but it soon became his brand statement. Outwardly, Banksy’s art was about making political statements around anti-consumerism, poverty, freedom of speech and much more. People tend to forget that ultimately he created art outside of street art and stencils, through production prints of which he has sold for millions.
As an alumni of OCAD, I do appreciate the history behind Banksy, the canvases he used for his street art, and the detail or lack of detail to tell his message. I even appreciate the controversy and the thought provoking discussions that his art and this exhibit in particular create.
For other points of view, check out some of these articles:
Toronto’s massive Banksy show misses the point – Toronto Star