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BANKSY The Story Behind Banksy


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WHO IS BANKSY ? Banksy is a pseudonymous English graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter.Ban-ksy began as a free-hand graffiti artist in 1990– 1994. By 2000 he had turned to the art of stencilling after realising how much less time it took to complete a work.

His works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world His satirical street art and subversive and pro-voking epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti, executed in a distinctive sten-cilling technique. His work grew out of the Bristol underground scene,which invol-ved collaborations between artists and musicians.Observers have noted that his style is similar to Blek le Rat, who began to work with stencils in 1981 in Paris. Banksy says that he was inspired by «3D».v, a graffiti artist who later became a founding member of Massive Attack.

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The Story Behind Banksy By 1999, he was headed to London. He was also beginning to retreat into anonymity. Evading anything to do with the authorities was one explanation —Banksy “has issues with the cops.” But he also discovered that

Banksy "has issues with the cops" anonymity created its own invaluable buzz. As his street art appeared in cities across Britain, comparisons to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring began circulating. When prompted to comment on the sale of his art-works through auction houses,Banksy replied by giving a quote from Henry Matisse: «I was very embarrassed when my canvases began to fetch high prices, I saw myself condemned to a future of painting nothing but masterpieces.» Banksy›s stencils are composed of striking and humorous images that occasionally combine with slogans. The message is usually anti-war, anticapitalist or anti-establishment. Subjects often include rats, apes, policemen, soldiers, children, and the elderly.

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“You don’t have to go to college, drag ’round a portfolio, mail off transparencies to snooty galleries or sleep with someone powerful, all you need now is a few ideas and a broadband connec-tion. This is the first time the essentially bourgeois world of art has belonged to the people. We need to make it count.”

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Bringing Bourgeoise art to the streets While he may shelter behind a concealed identity, he advocates a direct connection between an artist and his constituency. “There’s a whole new audience out there, and it’s never been easier to sell [one’s art],” Banksy

“As soon as I cut my first stencil I could feel the power there. I also like the political edge. All graffiti is low-level dissent, but stencils have an extra history. They’ve been used to start revolutions and to stop wars.”

"They've been used to start evolutions and stop war" has maintained. “You don’t have to go to college, drag ’round a portfolio, mail off transparencies to snooty galleries or sleep with someone powerful, all you need now is a few ideas and a broadband connection. This is the first time the essentially bourgeois world of art has belonged to the people. We need to make it count.

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DOES THAT MAKE When Time magazine selected the British artist Banksy—graffiti master, painter, activist, filmmaker and all-purpose provocateur—for its list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2010, he found himself in the company of Barack Obama, Steve Jobs and Lady Gaga. He supplied a picture of himself with a paper bag (recyclable, naturally) over his head. Most of his fans don’t really want to know who he is (and have loudly protested Fleet Street attempts to unmask him).

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SENSE TO YOU? "He's kind of captured the zeitgeist, But he's done it in quite an accessible way, so it speaks to people." "His work is a call to action. It's about hierarchies of power, social injustice andpaying attention to issues that aren't being addressed"

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Banksy Belongs to the Streets

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"Slave Labour"

Missing

ÂŤSlave LabourÂť is a mural that was painted by a British graffiti artist, Banksy, on the side wall of a Poundland store in Wood Green TheSlave Labour Mural depicts an urchin child at a sewing machine assembling a bunting of Union Jack patches.The Mural,which in-fact was a protest against the use of sweatshops to manufacture Diamond Jubileeand, London Olympics memorabilia in 2012. There is contro-versy over the disappearance of the mural, because a portion of the wall was physically removed from the building the artwork was sprayed upon. The owners of the building have not com-mented on whether it was legally or ille-gally sold and

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Banksy is a paradox: he used his anonymity to court attention and became a commercial success by condemning consumer culture.

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An Acceptable level of Threat But they do want to follow his upward trajectory from the outlaw spraying or, as the argot has it, “bombing� walls in Bristol, England, during the 1990s to the artist whose work commands hundreds of thousands of dollars

Banksy "you are an acceptable level of threat" in the auction houses of Britain and America. Today, he has bombed cities from Vienna to San Francisco, Barcelona to Paris and Detroit. And he has moved from graffiti on gritty urban walls to paint on canvas, conceptual sculpture and even film, with the guileful documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, which was nominated for an Academy Award.

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Social Activist Banksy’s first London exhibition, so to speak, took place in Rivington Street in 2001, when he and fellow street artists convened in a tunnel near a pub. “We hung up some decorators’ signs nicked off a building site,” he later wrote, “and painted the walls white wearing overalls. We got the artwork

"About 500 people turned up to an opening which had cost almost nothing to set up" up in 25 minutes and held an opening party later that week with beers and some hip-hop pumping out of the back of a Transit van.About 500 people turned up to an opening which had cost almost nothing to set up.” The people—and the apes and rats— he drew in these early days have a strange, primitive feel to them. My favorite is a piece that greets you when you enter the Pierced Up tattoo parlor in Bristol. The wall painting depicts giant wasps (with television sets strapped on as additional weapons) divebombing a tempting bunch of flowers in a vase. nighter.”

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"I don't think the Banksy story ends here."

Profile for Farah Hassan Hamdy

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