There is no doubt about it, Banksy is a naughty boy, (or possibly girl, though the consensus is boy, with supporting evidence, http://socyberty.com/people/rare-interview-with-banksy/ ), he is a graffiti artist, who paints on walls without permission, this is naughty and bored boys and girls shouldn’t do it.
Despite being so naughty, some of the people who’s walls he has painted on without permission will go to quite extraordinary lengths to make sure the next owners of the walls don’t remove the painting.
Others of course are keen to remove the works, despite local protests.
Sometimes people remove the wall.
Sometimes bits of wall with Banksys painted on them get nicked.
That they then try to sell them on e-bay of all places just goes to show how dumb nicking them in the first place was.
Banksy is perhaps not the most ‘painterly’ of artists, but where his work is ‘representative’ it is good enough, and often it is not so much the quality of what has been painted, but what it represents in context with where it is painted, that is so clever. Frankly I love most of the things he has done, His works on the Gaza wall for instance are clever, and politically relevant. Such as ‘Cut here’ shown above.
Although Banksy divides opinion, almost everywhere, it seems that he has found a niche in British hearts, particularly around Bristol which is reputed to be his home town. This is interesting from a sociological point of view.
My impression is that around the world the British are regarded as somewhat law abiding as conformist. Yet Britain has produced some very famous non conformists, Lord Byron for instance. The Beatles, The Sex Pistols, Spike Milligan, who’s refusal to fit in, and active challenge of establishment ideas and values.
I can’t say why so many others like him, but I can say what it is about his works which appeal to me.
The public element is a strong factor, public art in the UK tends towards the statuesque, partly this is the littering of town and city centres of the figures of the great and good, but in more recent years has included the Angel of the North, which responds somewhat to Henry Moore’s insistence that his works were public items, tied to the landscape they were set in.
Banksy’s work fits really well with this.
There is also a sense that to begin with at least Banksy was something of an underdog, the British love supporting an underdog, and I am aware that I share this trait with other Britons. It also has to be said that the British also like the idea of someone doing something a bit naughty and getting away with it, just so long as no-one gets hurt. And arguing that Banksy’s actions harm people is quite difficult, though a lot of London Boroughs have a pretty good try.
Overall I think though it is the cleverness of his agendas which appeal to me, and that he clearly enjoys a peculiar anonymous kind of fame, anonymity being an aspect of my own agenda.
I think this is fascinating because celebrity is something else which divides people, for some celebrity appears to be the, ‘be all and end all,’ of what they do, and their followers seem equally enamoured of this agenda. There seem to be an awful lot of celebrities who appear to be famous for no other reason than being famous. For others fame appears to be merely evidence that what they do has value. The actor Anthony Hopkins leaps to mind, for some reason.
I think it is hard to draw an exact dividing line between individuals that fall into either category, since I would imagine that if someone is lucky enough to famous it must be quite tempting to bask iin that fame for its own sake. On the other hand I would imagine that Fame is an awful hassle if you just want to nip to the shops for a jar of coffee.
I think Banksy has ended up with the best of both worlds, people talk about him, his work has an effect, and influences people, but he can still walk into his local takeaway without having to sign a hundred autographs, just to preserve his public image. In one statement attributed to him he claimed his mum still thinks he’s a painter and decorator, which is just fantastic.
Despite the fame his public art has generated, it seems that Banksy continues to have an ordinary life, and in the end I suspect a lot of ‘famous’ people envy him that.
Keep it up Banksy.