Archive for March 6th, 2008


March 6, 2008


I notice another Bansky has materialised in London.

Whilst I find his images a tad pithy and partially wry, the status of his work has been blown out of all possible proportion.

I’m now going to explain why with my words.

Firstly, the graphics themselves, again, they’re okay, they sort of remind me of a mixture of 50’s comic books and Goya’s etchings -well, at least in terms of the treatment of the figures and their subsequent lighting- which doesn’t exactly do much for Banksy’s ‘contemporary’ vibe. Painting on walls has been around since the Neanderthals shat on their fingers.

The compositions themselves are quite strong, the lack of background adds a certain starkness to his renderings but I can’t help feeling that this is born of a compromise. He’s desperate to protect his anonymity and subsequently the works need to be executed hastily. It feels to me his pieces have an ‘it’ll do’ aspect as opposed to a ‘I want to achieve this’ atmosphere.

And lets not beat about the bush here, the main reason he’s a success is precisely because of his status as some sort of anonymous guerrilla artist working on the fringes of the law. He’s such a renegade that Banksy.

The other reason he’s become successful, of course, is his subject matter. In my opinion this is his main strength but his message usually dithers too much to instil any sense of satire. Take his latest work as an example; he’s ironically done a great piece of PR for fucking Tesco…

So, why has this person’s work gone from being worthless graffiti to highly collectable art? It’s not good enough to say that he’s captured the zeitgeist of the modern age by offering to the public a bit of controversy via the juicy stamp of his exceptional talent. It’s because he’s the perfect media darling.

We can’t see this fellow, we know nothing about him, for all we know he’s stumbling out the Funky Buddha every night hanging out the back of Amy Winehouse coked to the Parietal Lobe before scrawling ‘cunt’ in his own vomit. All we know about Banksy are these timely acts of self PR. The person with all their flaws and idiosyncrasies to all intents and purposes doesn’t actually exist.

From the Daily Telegraph to the Daily Mail, this enigma has gone from common or garden vandal to being nonchalantly feted and quietly adored AND he can enjoy his celebrity status unhindered. In my opinion that’s his greatest achievement. In this respect, he’s unique. To have the press at your beck and call, yet you barely exist.

There are other brownie points too, his works (these days) can do wonders for a local economy, especially in deprived areas and, I suppose, a part of me sees him bringing art to the masses, turning the street into a gallery so on and so forth…

In fact, Banksy doesn’t really seem to have any critics at all. Everyone seems quite pleased when one appears. This is problematic – it emasculates his work, the satire that existed in the first place is gentrified. It becomes harmless and that’s not what art is about.

And this, dear reader, is why Banksy doesn’t really work.