Banksy – When Graffiti is Art

It seems that graffiti artist Banksy has struck again with the mural of a lion and a girl outside a pub in the UK. With the authorities’ manhunt of Swiss, Oliver Fricker and Briton, Lloyd Dane Alexander, resulting from the recent graffiti on the MRT, it made me think of when graffiti becomes art in its purest form, since it’s not done for any financial reward.  In Oliver’s case he had to pay a $100, 000 Singapore dollar bail so far and may pay in terms of mental anguish and more.  Boy do I feel sorry for him.  Briton Dane was smarter and left and hasn’t been caught by Interpol yet.  I don’t think even Banksy would risk doing his street art in Singapore, but wow, wouldn’t it be great if he was invited officially? Then it wouldn’t be graffiti, would it.

Anyway his work seems like street art more than graffiti. Some graffiti can be quite ugly and mindless. I like it when there is some thought put into it. Banksy’s work actually adds beauty to a otherwise dull setting, and provokes intelligent thought. The irony is when his work is ruined by actual vandalism (painted over by ugly graffiti). In my eyes vandalism seeks to destroy and not add to something.

Here are some works by Banksy which I found fascinating:


Found next to a no trespassing sign, in Salt Lake City Utah.

Banksy explains “In the bad old days, it was only popes and princes who had the money to pay for their portraits to be painted, This is a portrait of a maid called Leanne who cleaned my room in a Los Angeles motel. She was quite a feisty lady.”

According to Wikipedia, Banksy’s real name has been widely reported to be Robert, Robden or Robin Banks. His year of birth has been given as 1974.
Simon Hattenstone from Guardian Unlimited is one of the very few people to have interviewed him …. describes him as …..”a 28 year old male who showed up wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a silver tooth, silver chain, and one silver earring”. In the same interview, Banksy revealed that his parents think their son is a painter and decorator.

Banksy, himself, states on his website:
“I am unable to comment on who may or may not be Banksy, but anyone described as being ‘good at drawing’ doesn’t sound like Banksy to me.”

Once he even painted an Indian elephant pink, to blend in with a wallpapered room at a warehouse, as a metaphor for people ignoring the big issues in life, like poverty.

This is what Banksy writes on his official site, which is the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time:

Banksy does not produce greeting cards or print photo-canvases or paint commissions or sell freshly baked bagels. Please take anything from this site and make your own (non-commercial use only thanks).

Banksy cannot be found on facebook/twitter/myspace etc.

Customer returns and complaints: pestcontroldept@googlemail.com

Banksy has been purchased by the likes of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Brangelina spent 1 million pounds on his art. A ‘Banksy wall’ has sold for £208,000 on eBay. The purchaser is left with the task and cost of removing it, which is fair enough I think.

About bookjunkie

Blogging about life in Singapore helps me survive the mid-life crisis
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9 Responses to Banksy – When Graffiti is Art

  1. 365days2play says:

    His artwork is really good. Still, I feel that he should not think this means he is allowed to come and break the law here.

  2. bookjunkie says:

    i can’t imagine someone as prolific as Banksy getting caught……..i think he would probably think it wouldn’t be worth his effort to risk his street art here….the price would be way too heavy.

  3. 365days2play says:

    Oh I made a mistake, I thought it was Bansky that was our graffiti criminal.

    • bookjunkie says:

      there would be a real firestorm in the media if it was Banksy that was involved…I can’t even begin to imagine it….yikes! i would’t want to be on the map for that.

  4. Kirsten says:

    http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/art/banksy4602.jpg is my favourite Banksy piece. It says so much. I love the humour.

    There’s such a difference between tagging and graffiti. Tagging is just vandalism, pure and simple. It has no value is just rude and inconsiderate. But graffiti, really well done and executed pieces, are amazing works of street art that can say so much about the environment and society.

    • bookjunkie says:

      Thanks Kirsten!…I was fumbling for the right word. Yeah that’s what I meant…tagging is annoying, but graffiti like Banksy’s is pure art. It’s sad when vandals don’t realize the value of Banksy’s art and paint over it.

      I think in Melbourne, one of Banksy’s works was mistakenly painted over by the authorities in a regular clean up. When they realized the error, they had regrets about not safeguarding it earlier. Gosh…what a waste!

  5. Pingback: Banksy – When Graffiti is Art « Tiny Island | Artist News

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