Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The elusive art of the elusive artist Bansky in the news

Bansky as he appeared in his documentary
It has been said, sometimes smugly, by some street artist that if the public doesn't like their art (graffiti) then they can just paint over it. The situation is more true if the graffiti art is painted on private property.

This year there are two interesting stories about the street artist Banksky's work painted on private property. 

Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter. He has dozens of celebrity collectors - including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Christina Aguilera - who have paid hundreds of thousands  for his creations.

Wikkepedia writes:

"Banksy began as a freehand graffiti artist 1992–1994[13] as one of Bristol's DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ), with Kato and Tes.[14] He was inspired by local artists and his work was part of the larger Bristol underground scene with Nick Walker, Inkie and 3D.[15][16] From the start he used stencils as elements of his freehand pieces, too.[13] By 2000 he had turned to the art of stencilling after realizing how much less time it took to complete a piece. He claims he changed to stenciling whilst he was hiding from the police under a rubbish lorry, when he noticed the stenciled serial number[17] and by employing this technique, he soon became more widely noticed for his art around Bristol and London.[17]

Banksy wrote in his glossy coffee-table book Wall and Piece : “The people who truly deface our neighborhoods are the companies that scrawl giant slogans across buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy their stuff. They expect to be able to shout their message in your face from every available surface but you’re never allowed to answer back. Well, they started the fight and the wall is the weapon of choice to hit them back.”

Many consider him, his name at least, as the best know street artist of all time. His fame has increased dramatically with his documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop,"

 In 2006 Banksy was introduced to Thierry Guetta, an exuberant, eccentric French expatriot claiming to be making a documentary about street artist. Banksy joins in on the project, but is greatlly dissapointed with the final results. Banksy decides to take over the editing of the project from Guetta and brings in two proffesionals Jamie D'Cruz and Chris King, as producer and editor. They went through thousnads of hours of  Guetta's unlabeled film, much of it unuasable. Guetta, not detered by his freinds rejection of his editing of the material, returns home to Los Angeles to begin making art himself. Banksy comes up with the idea to shift the focus from street artist to focus on Guetta.

The resulting documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop", list Banksy as it's director. The film has received overwhelmingly positive reviews, holding 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, and was nominated for Best Documentary in the 2011 Academy Awards. One consistent theme in the reviews was the authenticity of the film: Was the film just an elaborate ruse on Banksy's part, The Boston Globe movie reviewer Ty Burr found it to be quite entertaining and awarded it four stars. He dismissed the notion of the film being a "put on" saying "I’m not buying it; for one thing, this story’s too good, too weirdly rich, to be made up. For another, the movie’s gently amused scorn lands on everyone."

Still not everyone know who Banksy is: Banksy's gorilla in a pink mask (July 2011)

Banksy's gorilla in a pink mask appeared on the wall of the former North Bristol Social Club in Eastville One of street artist Banksy's most famous early works in Bristol has been mistakenly painted over.

The gorilla in a pink mask on the wall of the ex-North Bristol Social Club, in Eastville, had been a familiar landmark in the area for more than 10 years.

But the building has recently been turned into a Muslim cultural centre.

New owner Saeed Ahmed assumed it was a regular piece of graffiti and had it painted over. "I thought it was worthless," he said.

He added: "I didn't know it was valuable and that's why I painted over it. I really am sorry if people are upset."

The wall was whitewashed by the new owner of the building who had never heard of Banksy.

A paintings conservator, Richard Pelter of Park Street-based International Fine Art Conservation Studios, was last night attempting to remove the whitewash using large cotton buds and sensitive cleaning materials.
Mr Pelter said he had been doing some tests.

"What I found was that the paint there was quite soluble underneath, but no-one could actually tell me where it was on the wall. 
The upper layers of paint can be removed, very carefully. It would take quite a long time and cost quite a bit of money to do it."

The gorilla was uncovered, maybe not the best idea.

Every Picture Tells a Lie -uncovered (September 2011)

In 2003 Banksy spray painted a mural inside, on the wall of  a contemporary art gallery in Germany's capital. The graffiti shows five soldiers with angel's wings and yellow smiley faces beneath the slogan "Every picture tells a lie!"

When the show was over the picture was painted over.

Now the covering paint has been removed. The mural was excavated as part of an art project by Brad Downey, a Berlin-based American artist, whose exhibition is titled What Lies Beneath and focuses on layers of paint. Downey, who also took part in the 2003 exhibit, remembered Banksy's work and wanted to uncover it for his 2011 project.

The gallery is unsure of what will happen to Banksy's work once Downey's exhibit ends on Oct 23rd. It could go back to hibernating behind white-washed walls -- that is, if someone doesn't try to buy it first.

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