“Most artists have an obsession that defines their work. Monet had light, Hockney has colour, I’ve got police response time”.
Banksy has opened his first solo show in over a decade at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, featuring original stencils by the artist. Cut and Run sees Banksy behind the mask and is an exhibition that had been kept a secret for two years. The artist chose this location as his “favourite work of art in Britain” is placed directly outside the gallery.
This masterpiece is the infamous Duke of Wellington statue where a traffic cone has been continuously placed mysteriously on the statue’s head for the past 40 years. Whenever the cone is removed, another one is placed back on.
It’s no surprise Banksy would admire the statue when it’s a way of lifting the middle finger at the establishment that tries to remove it. On entry, your mobile phone is locked away in a pouch, and there are thorough bag checks. It all feels a little unusual for an artist who loves freedom, but the irony won’t end there.
You see the original behind the scenes cut-outs and props. You’re welcomed into the exhibition with a tongue-in-cheek glossary on the walls with terms such as “Pseudonym—a self-appointed moniker. Derived from the Greek meaning ‘oh get over yourself’”.
Banksy mentions how working conditions dictate his art, whether that’s through his techniques, colours or subject matter.
He prepares meticulously detailed stencils at home so that he can simply spray paint over the template to get away from law enforcement. He explains, “I don’t think you can choose a style. Your circumstances force it on you.”
Throughout the exhibition, Banksy is self-aware, pokes fun at himself and makes comments on the commodification of art. You could hear the audience rumbling that selling his art makes him complicit in the consumerism he so heavily defies through his artwork, but Banksy makes a mockery out of that.
As you move through the exhibition, you can feel the tension build towards the room with Banksy’s The Girl with Balloon.
It showcased how Banksy placed a shredder into the painting in case it was ever put up for auction. It shows that under capitalism, not even street art and graffiti is sacred and cannot avoid marketisation. Yet the anonymous enigmatic artist has had his pieces of art sold to the highest bidder.
And the ability to create the shredded artwork would have required a good amount of money to produce.
The stunt increased the value and prestige of the painting. Therefore, some could argue this taints his anti-capitalist and anti-consumerist sentiments. Or perhaps this was an acknowledgement that his art has lost its innocence.
Banksy uses his self-deprecating sense of humour to carry you through the exhibition as though you’re on a walk with a friend. He opens up about his life and talks about the conditions of the world and opening up your inner child.
Similar to other graffiti artists, Banksy shows how art cannot be held captive in a gallery or museum, yet his art does so very well in—galleries and museums. In this exhibition, you see a politically radical artist stripped down in complete honesty about his complicated relationship with law enforcement and the art market.
Banksy’s unconventional methods have pushed boundaries and discussion within the art world and how we define art. The irony never ends with Banksy.
Banksy: Cut and Run—25 Years Card Labour runs until 28 Aug at the Gallery of Modern Art Glasgow bit.ly/GomaBanksyOriginal post