Wikipedia says that “Banksy is an anonymous England-based graffiti artist, a political activist and a film director. His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stenciling technique”. You may need a dictionary to interpret that interpretation. To me he is a thought-provoking street artist who has the power to impact any location at any given moment. Banksy’s identity claim has never been definitive, this in itself in today’s world I think this pays tribute alone to his character. Those privy to his identity have remained loyal and steadfast in keeping his identity unknown which you must admit can not be an easy task, I mean could you keep a secret that big knowing the street value of that information?.
Recently I found myself by chance in Auckland at the same time as The Art of Banksy exhibition at the Aotea Centre, the husband gracefully and thankfully declined coming with me so I had an hour of uninterrupted Banksy. Here is what I found out in my sixty minutes.
I loved being in an art environment, my fitbit was telling me my heart rate walking in to the exhibition was 81bpm, compared to my normal resting 67bph. I was in my happy place.
Banksy is rumoured to be only a few years younger than myself, and yet I was in a room filled with Banksy admirers who had to be at least 10 – 15 years older than me.
As I walked around I was just as interested in the conversations going on around me as I was in the actual art itself, I also found myself wondering did his anonymity give him the freedom to be able to do more street art, obviously one would think yes. Does it automatically not become vandalism if it is a “Bansky“? Is it Art and does it add value? (did you know that one of his works actually says ‘I cant believe you morons buy this shit”) or does Banksy just has the best PR/Advertising/Branding company in the whole wide world.
Banksy himself it is said has not so far, offered any interpretation of his works. It is therefore no one elses’ place to do so. They mean whatever you, the viewer think they mean.
Did I understand the artwork in front of me, was I ment to and did he actually care? They were visually appealing to me, I know I like street art, and to own an original Banksy is on my bucket list, but do I think he is the best technically correct artist in the word absolutely not, but something about Banksy makes me curious, I have instant likeing for 70 percent of the work that I have so far seen but he can also make you have a knee jerk reaction in one second. An example of this was walking around the corner of the wall and being confronted with a giant bigger than life-size artwork of malnourished child wearing a gold Burger King crown, for me it was an instant intake of breath and an overwhelming sadness, and I have to admit guilt, one second for this message to hit home. I am positive that of the 80 artworks (valued at I believe 40 million) shown they all would have had some reaction from at least one person in the crowd.
Given that street art has such a short life span, eg it can be painted over within hours, vandalised, even stolen. The Banksy phenomenon is truly admirable regardless of the intent and thought-provoking messaged inspired, whether its love it or hate it art, to be able to remain anonymous or give the illusion of being anonymous, and still be famous is I think a work of art in itself.
I raise my glass to the identity behind the street art, as I think to myself how good is it that I would not be disappointed if in my lifespan it is never revealed who Banksy is, because I am looking forward to more Banksy street art being revealed and as we are roughly a similar age, I believe I and the whole world have many more Banksy moments ahead of us for many years to come.