Street art develops into multiple forms in public places or on the streets. The term includes: the practice of graffiti, use of stencils, paint and markers, video projection, creation of posters on streets and sidewalks. Street art is considered a movement of artists who refuse to be associated with the masses, who want to raise attention by showing their political opinions, without being associated with a particular art form. The street artists are basically the ones who prefer to perform without permission, without prior consent, without taboos and without limits. Street art can be seen everywhere in the world, since it has no boundaries, nor sex, nor predetermined delimitation. All this has contributed to making this form of art increasingly original and popular.
Bansky is undoubtedly one of the most legendary graffiti artists, identified as a troubadour of modern times. He is a renowned and committed artist, incisive and often amazing. Today, Banksy has a place among the great pesonalities of this world, with his subversive actions.
He loves to provoke, shock and even disturb society. Equipped with a great ability to break the rules, he also manages to hide his identity. A true mystery to date, with several active theories, such as the one that identifies him with Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack. Philanthropist, anti-war and revolutionary, he takes his art as a means of communication to loudly proclaim his dissatisfaction with certain aspects of society, certain political situations or even certain decisions taken by world leaders.
Born in principle in 1973, since 1993 his works shine on several continents. It seems he said that he doesn’t express himself at best with the usual spray can and only in 2000 did he start using more elaborate stencils. But not only: next to the stencils he’s also dedicated to paintings, sculptures, diversions of urban objects or classic works, installations. Banksy is a versatile artist. He plays and provokes. He shows some of the facets of human conditions, always elaborated with a good dose of humor. His recurring figures are monkeys, mice, policemen, children, cats and members of the royal family.
Below is a list of his most famous works: a way of (re)discovering his figure through his art.
Girl With Balloon
A little girl who lets a heart-shaped balloon go: Girl with Balloon represents one of Banksy’s most popular works. Next to it, there was the famous inscription “There is always hope”. Always produced with a stencil, this drawing was painted in 2002 on the facade of a London store. But in recent years, English and tourists can no longer admire it: in 2014, it was taken from the wall to be sold for auction. Recently, in October 2018, the same painting had been awarded to an anonymous buyer by telephone at the Contemporary Art Evening Sale for 1,042,000 pounds, a record for the artist. Shortly after the auctioneer hit the hammer, a sort of document shredder apparently hidden inside the frame, destroyed much of the canvas that slipped out of the bottom of the picture into many strips.
The details are obviously unknown, but after that happened, he commented on Instagram: “Going, going, gone…” Just to confirm its unconventional and provocative nature.
The Anarchist Rat
Banksy is very inspired by mice, which often seems to be associated with the human race. He illustrates them recurrently, in all possible scenarios. The Anarchist Rat represents a mouse, standing on its hind legs, holding a sign with an obvious anarchic sign.
The two policemen in typical British uniform are depicted kissing, in what looks like a loving hug. Now only a copy of the wall exists, the original has been sold.
The original version depicted two men pointing bananas, rather than the guns used in the film. This work was canceled from the city. But Banksy did not give up and recreated a second one, in which the two heroes are dressed in bananas.
This mural depicts two kids playing with buckets and shovels, like creating sand castles on a beach. The boys, one standing and the other on their knees, look back at the viewer, rendered in the typical aesthetics of Banksy’s black and white stencil. Just above the boys, the artist created the illusion of a hole on the gray wall on which the mural was created. Through this false hole, a photorealistic color image of a paradise is visible: a tropical beach with sand, crystalline water and several palm trees.
Mona Lisa Bazooka
Banksy uses one of the most famous paintings in the world, La Gioconda (1503-4). although here the female protagonist wears a headset and holds a rocket launcher. The piece first appeared in the Soho district, in the west of London. While Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa looks graceful and passive, Banksy gives it a powerful, conflictual and active sensibility. His facial expression remains calm as in the original, however, next to the powerful weapon, his welcoming smile seems slightly threatening. It can also be read as a statement on how blasé citizens have become constantly active on war, always happening in a place somewhere away from their peaceful lives.
Banksy is an excellent example of the way street artists use the surrounding environment as an integral part of their works. In this work he staged a simple black silhouette of a child with a big hammer, about to hit a fire hydrant. The work is located on 79th Street, just east of Broadway, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Banksy and other street artists encourage viewers to imagine urban spaces, surfaces and objects in a different way, transmitting a sense of fun and stimulating the imagination. Urban spaces and surfaces are not limited to their prescribed uses. You have the freedom to re-use the urban environment. A fire hydrant is not only a water tool, but can become a toy for children. A handrail is not just for holding and supporting us, but can also become a tool for acrobatic acts.
It is one of his last murals, appeared on two walls of a private garage in the area of Taibach in Port Talbot, an industrial city of South Wales, considered among the most polluted areas of United Kingdom mainly due to the presence of old steel mills. The inhabitants are used to cleaning the ash away from the parked cars or the windows of their homes.
Precisely the steel mills, the ash and more generally the problem of pollution are the base of Banksy’s recent work. The video that the artist published on his Instagram account leaves no room for doubt: at the beginning the shot takes up a child intent on ‘tasting’ the fresh snow that falls joyfully with the sweet background of ‘Little Snowflake’, but then the field of vision widens and we see that it’s ash, not snow. The framing rises and the disturbing figure of the steelworks looming over the city appears in the background.
Reportedly, the artwork comes from a direct message that the artist received on Instagram from Gary Owen, 55, who invited the artist in August to ask him to highlight the dust problem of Port Talbot from the nearby steelworks. A way of demonstrating that Banksy is also trying to give voice to the problems of normal men, who live the burdens of our sick planet.