Although you may think of this guy’s graffiti as an offensive way of expression, Banksy is a real genius. He managed to get peoples’ attention by simply drawing the right graffiti at the right moment, in the right spot. And what’s so good about his work is that it’s simple and it holds a valuable message often that being a critic or a mockery of a significant state institution or event.
Who is Banksy?
For those of you who don’t know who Banksy is, here’s a little introduction. He is an artist, starting his career in the ‘90s under his famous pseudonym, therefore not revealing his true identity. He began making his original appearance in Bristol, England, where it is assumed that it’s the city of his birthplace. Banksy is more of an underground artist, striving to make a statement by using street art instead of creating “meaningless” commercial art. His artworks, often made by freehand or stencil, are characterized by striking images, often accompanied by powerful slogans. It is apparent that his inspiration mainly comes from some political issues and events, satirically criticizing wars and capitalism, boldly presenting what society fails to discuss openly and thoroughly.
Art by Banksy
Here are some of the most famous works of art by Banksy, spread throughout the world and becoming real tourist attractions:
Rage the flower thrower
Location: West Bank Wall, Israel
This powerful masterpiece is made in August 2005, when Banksy went on a trip to the Palestinian territories and made some controversial graffiti on the West Bank Wall. The Flower Thrower is an interesting graffiti, connecting the symbols of rage and peace. The graffiti consists of an angry and frustrated man wearing a kerchief and a baseball cap, captured right in the moment of throwing a bouquet of flowers. The symbolism of this graffiti points out Banksy’s wish for peace in the world. It reminds of images from the street riots in 1960, although the modification here is the flower as a symbol of love and peace.
Location: Clement Street, Bristol, UK
Interesting fact about Banksy is that he never announces the exact location of the new graffiti, but rather lets the public do a little Banksy hunt. He only posts the works on his website, giving some hints about the locations. Well, that’s also the case with this piece – the Mobile Lovers. It is located on Clement Street, on a flat black door and a rusty old wall. On the image there is a couple in love, embracing each other, looking at their mobile phones. As sad as it seems, that’s the cruel reality of society. Because of technology, people, especially the younger generations, don’t talk that much with each other but rather hang out with their phones.
Residents in this neighborhood love the graffiti, especially because it makes the area look nicer and more visited. That’s why they hope it won’t get destroyed by vandals.
Girl with Umbrella
Location: Marigny neighborhood, New Orleans, Louisiana
The “Girl with Umbrella” mural appeared in 2008, shortly after the three-year anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina which had been a disastrous event, causing the deaths of more than 1,800 people.
On the mural, a girl with an umbrella is presented, and the strange part about the image is that the rain doesn’t fall on the outside of the umbrella, but it comes from the inside, pouring on the poor girl. It might depress you, and that’s normal because it holds a powerful meaning. The girl is also reaching out with her hand to see if it rains away from the umbrella. In one interview, Banksy says that this stencil shows how things that are supposed to protect us can also hurt us. The protection, in this case, is the umbrella and the “enemy” is the rain. This piece is treasured and causes deep emotions, in particular for people that have survived and lost somebody during the Hurricane Katrina.
Location: Westwood, Los Angeles, California, USA
This piece was completed in 2011 as a commentary against child soldiers. On the stencil, a young boy of Asian descent is shown, holding a weapon as big as the kid itself, but instead of bullets, the weapon’s munition consists of crayons. The child and the weapon are represented in black and white, while the crayons and flowers, trees and grass drew around the kid, made as if they were drawn with crayons, are represented in various colors. If you look at the whole piece, you will come to the point that Banksy draws this to raise awareness of the poor and innocent children dying in a world filled with wars.
Girl with Balloon
Location: South Bank, London, UK
The Girl with Balloon is one of the most famous pieces of work by Banksy that have spread throughout the world. It is done in 2007 on a wall in South Bank, representing a girl reaching out for a red, heart-shaped balloon floating in the air. Above the stencil work, there’s also a slogan saying: “There is always hope.” The meaning of the graffiti is quite clear, proposing that whatever you hope and dream is within your reach, you just have to try hard and grab it to get what you desire.
Follow your dreams
Location: Essex Street in Chinatown district, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
This piece of art appeared in May 2010, where a stencil of a painter had been created. The painter is also accompanied by the words “Follow your dreams” placed on a wall as if they’re made by the artist itself. On top of the phrase, a red stamp with the word “Cancelled” is created, giving you the impression that whatever the words underneath were telling you to do, the stamp is canceling the action. The stencil is designed on Essex Street, located in the low-income district of Boston; a place picked correctly for bringing the right message to the public. To sum up, this work is a commentary on class stratification.
So far, Banksy’s work has been adored and widely appreciated by its many fans and artists throughout the whole world. You can find original pieces of Banksy’s work in many metropolitan cities, although they tend to be destroyed by vandals and other artists or moved to another location. The original stencils can be bought for quite some big prices. However, many replicas can be found at exhibitions and art stores.
If you want to find all the spots in a particular city where Banksy created his work, then you can take the Banksy tour organized in the towns like Bristol, Berlin, London, New York City, etc. Also, take a look at the movie ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop,’ where you will find out more about Banksy, his work and other artists that he has collaborated with.
Until then, the mystery remains: Where and what will Banksy come up with next?