When night comes and stars twinkle, the mystery man begins his work to rudely awaken powerful societies, ultra-rich nations, and their lords. Very often, he includes objects pre-existing in the streets, on the roads, wrecked bridges and bombed structures, to deliver his message. He crafts striking art that encompasses commentary about dysfunctional systems and social issues, including gang violence, homelessness, state surveillance and regional conflicts across the world. In truth, his politically-charged street art have rocketed in symbolic locations to dismantle erroneous narratives across the globe from London to the West Bank.
Perhaps the most controversial street artist in the world, the artworks of Banksy give an eye to blind, hope to those in despair and light to the darkness. A world-renowned mystery man, Banksy has risen through the ranks to become one of the world’s greatest street artists. His artwork pumps emotion, happiness, disturbance, tranquillity and even anger. In all cases, it serves the purpose. Although his identity remains unknown, even after more than 30 years, elusive British street artist Banksy is no stranger to the world.
At the age of 18, Banksy was nearly caught vandalizing public spaces by the police. Banksy was stuck hiding beneath a dustbin van. However, he noticed stencil letters sprayed onto the truck, and as he had been looking for a faster way to paint, he decided stencilling would be his new graffiti type to say what you and I can’t. Banksy told his friend, as soon as I cut my first stencil, I could feel the power there.
Nevertheless, millions feel inspired by Banksy’s street art, and I am one of them, especially by the pieces that reflect commentaries on the social order of the countries, serial incompetence of the status quo, threats to freedom of speech, European migrant crisis and the issues that are overlooked by society.
Banksy’s art pieces create uproar across the world. No amount of chest-beating and flag-waving can offer solace to such issues. He has demonstrated how law enforcement is more engaged with keeping walls clean from his art, rather than dealing with the actual issues that concern the safety and the well-being of children, healthcare workers, and victims of violent atrocities.
Banksy’s troublesome vision has not only impacted societies torn apart by brutal wars but also influenced diligent minds, political quarters, and social welfare systems. His decorations of the West Bank barrier are held up as a candid expression of political activism in support of Palestinians and the advancement of human rights. Today, Banksy iconic works have been re-shared, relearned and repurposed beyond measure.
In 2010, Time magazine placed the British artist Banksy graffiti master, and painter in their list of the world’s 100 most powerful people. Banksy found himself in the company of Barack Obama, and Steve Jobs. He supplied a picture of himself with a paper bag (recyclable, naturally) over his head to the magazine.
Many critics say that Banksy defaces the streets in an unacceptable way of practicing art. But let me remind you a lot of his work carries influence and educational value to the public eye. In 2017, Banksy donated a series of three paintings entitled ‘Mediterranean Sea View’, to auction to raise money for a hospital in Bethlehem. The stunning landscapes came with a Banksy twist: life jackets washed up on the shore, intended to highlight the growing European migrant crisis. Banksy said, “What we do in life echoes in eternity”. We need to think about the impact we can have on the world and how peace can be restored and preserved.
To the common mind, Banksy’s art shows how sometimes going against the tide can be the most effective way to deliver important ideas. Banksy often uses children in his work as key figures to open society to ideas. As a symbol of our future, kids captivate our attention to shake our self-centered monstrous egos and cultural wars. Educating our children about art, and freedom of expression helps them to learn and speak about ongoing issues. It gives them a voice in telling our government that it is never too late to improve.
In the last 20 years, Banksy has raised almost £30 million for charitable causes. He may be the best-selling contemporary artist of all time. He serves a social purpose through his art.
Banksy’s Masterpiece, of a sombre image that depicts a crying woman, appeared on the exit doors of Bataclan, deeply touching the victims of a terrorist attack in 2015 and 2018.
Similarly, in October 2019, amidst the political controversy at the time, Banksy released ‘Devolved Parliament’; a painting that depicts the House of Commons overtaken by apes. It sold at Sotheby’s for an astonishing £9.9 million. In typical Banksy fashion, he responded to the sale on Instagram, the price of a work of art is now part of its function, its new job is to sit on the wall and get more expensive.
In the global pandemic crisis, Banksy crafted a black and white painting, depicting a young boy playing with a ‘superhero’ NHS nurse doll, appearing in the corridors of Southampton Hospital in 2020 with a note saying, “Thanks for all you are doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white”. The painting was sold for a record £16.7m in aid of charities supporting the National Health Services (NHS).
Banksy’s artistic endeavors continue to take him around the world. His artworks have twinkled in Australia, Palestine, the United States, Canada, Jamaica, and Israel, and are instantly protected and admired. Banksy art is everything you chose to be, his art is unlimited, and unsilenced.