Banksy has popped up in the heart of London this week, unveiling two new murals close to the capital’s Barbican Centre. Banksy has described the murals as an “(unofficial) collaboration” with the upcoming centre’s exhibition of Jean-Michel Basquiat, an American artist who started his career off as a graffiti artist before becoming an acclaimed painter (amongst numerous other talented gifts) and sadly dying from a heroin overdose at the young age of 27. Banksy’s captions with his instagram images can be read as hypocrisy of the exhibition’s location, describing the Barbican Centre as “a place that is normally very keen to clean any graffiti from its walls.”
The first Banksy mural shows a line of people queuing up to ride on a ferris wheel, with carriages shaped like crowns, which are also common in some of Basquiat’s work.
The second mural, which is inspired by Basquiat’s Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump, displays police officers searching and questioning the boy as the dog looks on.
Are the new Banksy murals seen as a slight dig at Barbican’s apparent lack of graffiti art appreciation in the past, or perhaps the intention was to provide extra media on the controversial new exhibition taking place. I cannot comment on the former but if we go with the latter then I believe it has done the job well. People love a good Banksy piece popping up unexpectedly, reflecting upon the artist’s views on current news, that each piece also comes with heavy media attention (and hefty price tag). Banksy, who is not shy of making large political points, is also an avid crusader to support causes he cares about. He (or she, as no one really knows Banksy’s true identity) recently donated £205,000 from the sale of his latest work to the human rights charity Reprieve and Campaign Against Arms Trade. Titled Civilian Drone Strike, the work depicts multiple drones bombing a child’s drawing of a house. The work was auctioned at Art The Arms Fair, an exhibition coinciding with the Defence and Security Equipment International arms fair in east London last week.
For an artist who has so much media surrounding them when their true identity is still unknown during this modern digital age, it’s great to see their controversial work given ample media coverage for other talented artists and raising money for charity.
Senior Finished Artist
Banksy images credit – The Guardian, Getty, Insta