Monday, December 7, 2009

Banksy


"Some people become cops because they want to make the world a better place. Some people become vandals because they want to make the world a better looking place. “- Banksy, Wall and Piece, 2005
So, who is he?
Let’s do a basic intro to Banksy, shall we? The facts:
Banksy (born in 1974) is a graffiti artist from Bristol in the UK. Yay, British. His artwork is now famous worldwide, not only in the UK.
Despite not calling himself an artist, he is considered as extremely talented in that respect; and indeed as one of the greatest graffiti artists of our times. He uses his original street art form, often in combination with a distinctive stencilling technique, to promote alternative aspects of politics from those promoted by the mainstream media. Banksy's stencils usually show humorous or shocking images, sometimes coupled with witty slogans. The messages behind his stencils are usually anti-war, anti-capitalist or anti-establishment.
Oh, and by the way, he likes to stay anonymous, so no one really knows who he is.
Past and beginnings
This isn't such a history lesson, so relax guys.
So, the story goes that Banksy started out as a freehand graffiti artist in the early 90s, way back when. He was reportedly part of the DryBreadZ Crew (a.k.a DBZ) From the 2000s, he had turned to stencilling, as he realised it took much less time to complete a 'piece', yet the artwork was still visually striking. Banksy himself claims he turned to stencilling after seeing the stencilled serial number under a train while hiding from the police. This technique soon became his trademark, an allowed him to become more widely noticed around Bristol and London, and ultimately worldwide.
And that leads us to today: Banksy has become one of the most widely recognised and innovative graffiti artists in the world
Influence
Ok, so it would be naive to think that Banksy hasn't influenced other artists and just people in general just coz he does graffiti. Let’s have a bit of open mindedness here.
Banksy has pretty much outshined basically all his contemporaries when it comes to doing something a little bit different and showing true versatility. While other artists are definitely influenced by him, none have really been able to match him either. Banksy produces groundbreaking art with spectacular image sand colours, as well as providing a strong social message.
"The Banksy Effect" was coined by Max Foster to illustrate how Banksy's influence on street art provided other street artists with the tools to be able to create pieces and gain recognition. In 2007, the owners of a house with a Banksy Mural on the side of it tried to sell the house, but the offers fell through coz the buyers wanted to get rid of the mural. It’s now listed as a mural with a house attached. Pretty rad.
It’s nice to have some influence, hey.
Controversy and Censorship.
Banksy’s career has been rife with controversy. It seems people are divided as to whether his work should be considered art or vandalism. Spokespeople for the organisation “Keep Britain Tidy” have asserted that Banksy’s works are “simple vandalism” and have gone as far as to say, "We are concerned that Banksy's street art glorifies what is essentially vandalism” Yeah.
Organisations and officals have even resorted to censoring his works, painting over some great pieces, claiming that his graffiti was not to be tolerated. In 2007, Transport for London painted over Banksy's now iconic image of a scene from Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, with Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta clutching bananas instead of guns. Transport for London got rid of the image, claiming the "graffiti" created "a general atmosphere of neglect and social decay which in turn encourages crime" and futher commented that their staff are "professional cleaners not professional art critics”. Banksy later tagged the same site again, however this time the actors were portrayed as holding real guns, but were dressed in banana costumes (look to the side, kiddies)
In another brilliant example, the Westmister City council stated in October 2008 that the work “One Nation Under CCTV” (look below) would be painted over coz it consituted graffiti. They stated that anything considered graffiti would be removed despite the reputation of its creator. Then they said that Banksy had no more right to paint graffiti than a child. Yeah, you read that right. I think some people need to broaden their view of art, but whatever. Anyways, the image was painted over in April this year.
These are but a few examples of Banksy’s works being censored and destroyed. Honestly, there are many, many more instances, even here in Australia. What a shame, really. I mean, you wouldn’t go into an art gallery and paint over something in a frame just coz you didn’t like the content, now would you? Its not like he’s going around mindlessly tagging every second wall he sees.
Ahh, end rant.

1 comments:

lily | January 11, 2010 at 9:35 PM

interesting artworks, very contemporary, controversial and clever. Pity it's not appreciated by all.

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