Wk 11 — Artist OTW — Student Choice

About the Artist

Banksy is an anonymous British street graffiti artist. Most reports suggest he was born in 1974 although even this is up to debate. What the public definitively knows about this artist isn’t much additionally, it seems the artist intends to keep it this way. Banksy’s works have political themes which are then stenciled into public places. This artist is politically active as he/she critiques war, greed, and government. In his critique of war, a mural depicts a girl patting down a soldier. When Banksy analyzed greed, he chose to paint a child working a sewing machine alluding to child labor in response to fast fashion. The governments enforcement of law is a main part of his work as his pieces are riddled with negative depictions of law enforcement. This artist seems indifferent to the art itself which suggests he is more concerned about the message he is sending.

Formal Analysis

The illegal nature of his work makes the preplanning of his pieces extensive as most of the parts must be stenciled long before he displays a piece. He predominantly creates works with black and white paint although most of his works have a splash of color. The color depends on the piece but most of his street art uses black and white with one additional color such as red or blue. The style he has is bold, with crisp lines outlining the works with sharp contrast between any colors used. The lines created are dual purpose as they create the ends of the work while providing detail simultaneously. The scale of the work for this artist vary. Some of his works are 1:1 with the people depicted being actual size; however, in other instances the persons painted are the size of small sedans. One of the more controversial and largest pieces he has ever made was painting a wallpaper pattern on an elephant within California.

Content Analysis

Banksy wishes to spark conversation about issues often overlooked or accepted within western society. This includes the normalization of war and how it is affecting children. Some of his pieces include children with automatic weapons or as previously mentioned patting down a soldier. The piece on the elephant was addressing poverty and how the elephant within the room is camouflaged and ignored. Additionally, his works criticizing the state or officials of the state emphasize corruption or even questionable tactics with works depicting pat downs of children or officers abusing narcotics. The last point to touch upon is his indifference to the pieces themselves. The exhibitions he creates rarely gathers media attention until after the event as he doesn’t promote. Therefore, as previously stated the artist could be emphasizing his message over the work he creates. In doing so the focus is the message not the artist nor the work. The best example of this would be the piece which was designed to destroy itself as it had a built-in shredder.

Synthesis/My Experience

Most of his artwork I find interesting for the rawness of its presentation. I also find it important to listen to what people on the other side of the fence have to say. Although I can say he is opposed to law enforcement and I support law enforcement, we have middle ground. Yes, there are mistakes and policies which make officers and their departments look bad and they should be brought to attention. However, I think Banksy is creating blanket statements regarding the profession which are fictious. Additionally, his stance on war is worth noting as such practices have become commonplace in the western world especially the United States. One of the pieces which I enjoy the most is the piece on a street corner depicting a dumpster fire raining ash on a child who thinks the ash is snow. It resonates with me because it has two meanings. The first, the situation is what you make it, is it raining ash? Oh well, time to make the best of it. The second, how things adults refuse to fix such as society being the dumpster fire and how our indifference will inevitably poison our children.