Banksy. WALL AND PIECE. 2006. Century. London UK ISBN 1844137872

Review by Theresa Wolfwood
“Copyright is for losers ™” from first page of this book
From the first page, Banksy who refuses to be identified, forcing us to react to his work, not him, is handing us up a mirror to the absurdity and evil of our society. He forces us to look at every aspect of our lives and to re-think unthinking acceptance.

Banksy is a British male who started his vocation as a ‘graffiti’ artist in Bristol.

He believes that, “A wall has always been the best place to publish your art” and he urges us to re-claim public space – it is ours.

He is, in the most conventional sense, a brilliant artist as his painting of men throwing spears at shopping carts show. He also uses stencils to great effect, as he says they are faster to get on surfaces, a strategy developed when he was nearly caught by police doing art by hand. Je gives helpful hints on how to stencil – just in case we feel the urge to join the ranks of outdoor artists ourselves. Why not? Did we ask to have our public spaces filled with corporate propaganda – urging us to consume?

His sister threw away many of his creations, claiming they would never  hang in the Louvre. She was wrong; Banksy has made it into the Louvre and the Tate. But still his best work is out here –from the Israeli-built Palestine wall – where he did wonderful paintings- to the backs of animals to grotty underpasses to stanchions in road works to placards in anti-war demonstrations. He has a fondness for rats and monkeys, animals little loved by humans and they pop up everywhere even on postage stamps. There seems to be no end to his ability to put art everywhere. His modified billboards are gems of small changes that create striking new messages.

He has a great way with words as well and throughout the book his images are enhanced by short stories, conversations and sentences. He quotes others as well – see the quote on the back cover.
“we don’t need any more heroes, we just need someone to take out the recycling” “A lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to”
Every page of this book jolts our comfort zone, forces us to look at the commonplace with see insight and has the possibility to inspire us to see, act and create new ways of living in this world in our own (public) space. It’s ours, so why not?

 

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