Unraveling the Mysterious and Mischievous World of the Artivist Extraordinaire!
Today, we are diving headfirst into the mind-boggling world of none other than the elusive street art legend himself - and long term hero of mine – Banksy. Grab your spray cans, activate the right side of your brain, and let's dive down a rabbit hole of creativity and mischief!
25 Years Card Labour
Last week I was lucky enough to visit Banksy’s very excellent Cut & Run show at GOMA in Glasgow, a showcase of the stencils he's used to create his most famous street artworks over the years, plus recreations of some of his most famous live art pieces. It was simply brilliant. Like all of Banksy’s work it was thought provoking, funny as hell, fascinating, brilliantly executed and just so very real. Each piece has a commentary written by the man himself and as you wander round you really feel that you are getting to know what makes him tick.
As a Glasgow gal I nearly burst with pride when I read his self-penned show introduction, explaining that he’d chosen Glasgow for this one-time extravaganza because our much beloved, and conically be-hatted, Duke of Wellington statue is his favourite work of art in the UK.
Let’s take a closer look at the phenomenon that is Banksy…
The Master of Mystery: Banksy Unmasked?
First things first, who is Banksy? The million-dollar question that has puzzled the art world for years. Various names have been thrown into the ring over the years but none confirmed. Some say he's a ninja artist, appearing out of thin air with his stencils and spray cans, while others claim he's an undercover superhero fighting art mediocrity. Personally, I'd like to believe that he's an eccentric time traveler who pops into our timeline to leave his mark and disappears before anyone can say, "Wait, who's that guy?”.
When Art Meets Prank: The Ultimate Mashup!
One thing's for sure – Banksy's art is anything but boring. He blurs the line between art and prank, leaving us scratching our heads and grinning like Cheshire cats. From a self-shredding million-dollar artwork at Sothebys to his dystopian theme park Dismaland Bemusement Park he sure knows how to bring the mischief to art.
The Great Art Heist… Or Not?
Who could forget the infamous art heist that left the world gasping in disbelief? Banksy's "Girl With a Balloon" self-destructing just as the gavel came down for £800,000 auction? Oh, the drama! The world was agog - was it a heist, a malfunction, or a carefully choreographed masterpiece?
Well all is revealed in Cut & Run, with a large exhibit dedicated to this amazing feat. It turns out Banksy spent a whole year perfecting the remote control shredder inside the frame with his partner in crime Allen (not his real name, tee hee), a remote control boat enthusiast from Bristol. They shredded over 100 canvases in the process. Once the hammer came down, they pressed the button and BOOM! off it went, until unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), one of the shredded strips got caught in the motor and the shredding stopped halfway.
The buyer was still keen to go through with the purchase though, simply asking them to decommission the shredder so it was safe. Quite right too - what he initially purchased was a classic if slightly staid Banksy image on canvas but what he got was a truly iconic piece of sculpture/installation/performance art which will never be forgotten.
The "Banksy Effect" – Artistic Anarchy in Action
Love him or hate him, there's no denying the "Banksy Effect." He has single-handedly redefined the street art scene, inspiring a legion of artists to pick up their stencils and spray cans to join the artistic anarchy. You know you're onto something when your art starts a revolution – quite literally.
Political Provocateur: The Artivist Extraordinaire
Beyond the pranks and mystery, Banksy is a true "artivist" (artist + activist, in case you're wondering). His art speaks volumes about social issues, political unrest, and everything that keeps us up at night. He's like the art world's Batman, shining the spotlight on injustice and inequality, one mural at a time.
Where in the World is Banksy?
Part of the fun is the thrill of the chase! Trying to guess where Banksy will strike next is like playing hide-and-seek with an art-savvy ghost. Will he grace the streets of London with a new piece? Or perhaps he'll surprise us in some remote corner of the world? Maybe he’ll team up with Elon and stencil the moon!
Cut & Run: My Highlights of the Show
Honestly, I loved it all. I did have fun playing inside his 2013 Meat Truck exhibit, where visitors could puppet the animals and make them squeak (strangely satisfying).
The great thing about this show is that the smaller and less imposing exhibits were just as impactful as the larger ones. The Keith Allen Gallery lookout story (which I probably can’t tell you here but PLEASE do Google it) made me laugh out loud and continue chuckling for days. The story (and small, annotated map) recounting Banksy’s daring escape from the local bobbies of Gorleston Beach in Norfolk tickled me pink too.
Seeing the artistry and draftsmanship of his ideas, art and stencils close up felt very special. As I alluded to in my intro earlier, you really feel like you are getting to know Banksy through this show. And, even better, that he is very much worth getting to know.
On leaving (through the gift shop OF COURSE), there was one final treat. Posca paint markers hanging from the walls and an invitation to make your own mark. What else could my tag be but a Tunnock’s Tea Cake?
The Best Art Show You'll Never Attend
The show is on at GOMA in Royal Exchange Square until the 28th August and its open all hours (in case you fancy a wee late night shufti). Many of the available time slots are already booked out but you can get ‘walk-in’ tickets from GOMA on the day too. I popped along at 10am and easily got tickets for the busy Saturday afternoon slots.
But if you can’t get to Glasgow for the show, and you don’t have any Banksys (yet!) In your neck of the woods, don’t fret. Who needs to physically attend when we can follow his antics online and feel like we're part of the underground art revolution?
And who could really blame us for hoping that he might bless Glasgow with a brand new Banksy as a parting gift when the exhibition ends?
Cut and Run
And there you have it, folks – Banksy, the enigma wrapped in a riddle, sprinkled with a large dash of artistic brilliance and a generous dose of wit. He's like the Shakespeare of street art, leaving us with one question echoing through the ages – "To be Banksy, or not to be Banksy?”.
Until the day we unmask this modern-day Da Vinci, let's continue to embrace the delightful mystery that is Banksy and celebrate the rebellious spirit that makes art so wonderfully chaotic! Keep your eyes peeled for stencils, question everything, and remember – art is all around us; sometimes, it just takes a little bit of mischief to find it.