Week 11: Artist OTW - Student Choice

Artist: Banksy

Media: Street art, painting, installation art

Website: https://www.banksy.co.uk

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/banksy/

Anonymous artist Banksy has been creating street art across the world since the 1990s. No one knows his true identity though most believe his real name is Robin Gunningham. He is an England-based street artist born in Bristol and his works consist of both political and social commentary. He first started out as a freehand graffiti artist and later moved on to stencils, the type of art he is most known for now. Although he has yet to confirm it himself, many believe Banksy was influenced by Blek le Rat and he also takes inspiration from big figures such as Princess Diana and Marcel Duchamp. His work is very political as it criticizes war, capitalism, hypocrisy and greed.

Most of Banksy’s art can be seen painted onto the sides of buildings in popular cities across the world. A lot of his art is made in black and white with certain parts highlighted using color. One of his most famous works, Balloon Girl, is a stenciled girl in black and white letting go of a red heart balloon. His works range from taking a small portion of the wall they are onto almost taking it entirely. Being stenciled on with spray paint, his work appears more flat rather than having texture to it. An example of his work with more muted colors would be Devolved Parliament, a painting in which Banksy replaced british politicians with chimpanzees. It’s brightness is mostly focused on the center of the painting where one chimpanzee sits on what appears to be a throne.

When looking online to see how Banksy views his own art and what he wants it to represent, there isn’t much on the subject. Since he is an anonymous artist, there aren’t many direct quotes from him where he expresses his thought process being his work. A common theme across most of his work shows his political beliefs and how he is anti-capitalism, anti-facism, anti-war and many other things. He creates pieces that challenge the government and how they rule.

A lot of Banksy’s work contains figures such as rats, chimpanzees, children and adults. I really like Balloon Girl and it became more meaningful to me the more I looked at it. At first I perceived it as just being a girl letting go of a balloon but after looking closer, I noticed there was the number 20 inside the balloon. That detail changed the way I saw the piece entirely. I now believe that it is a piece revolving around trying to gain back your childhood. I am 20 years old right now and would live to live carefree again as a childhood. To me, the girl is releasing her older age and is attempting to go back to being a kid. A lot of Bansky’s most meaningful works feature children and I think it is a way for him to hold onto his youthfulness. Maybe that’s why he continues to stay anonymous, because he doesn’t want anyone to know his real age and just wants to be seen as a mysterious being rather than “that old artist.”