Banksy has proved to be one of the most mystifying and controversial street artists of our time, covering urban spaces with his satirical art worldwide. While some may consider the hooded man a criminal, violating public space with his blunt messages, others view him as an artistic mastermind who found a way to make people listen to what he has to say.
The Art of Banksy opened this week, nestled between the Yarra and Federation Square. This new and unique art exhibition features some of Banksy’s most well-known pieces, in a contemporary fashion. The exhibition presents some original Banksy art, as well as limited edition screen prints and photographs of some of his most iconic pieces located overseas.
The gallery was broken into sections, which were each thematically different and aesthetically enchanting. One room was presented as a luxurious lounge with a hanging chandelier, with a Banksy print illuminated upon the wall, while another area was transformed into an underground metro. Not only did this make it a more exciting adventure through the gallery but it also added to the unique nature of the exhibition.
Girl With Balloon, one of Banksy’s most well-known pieces, was there as a signed two colour screen-print, as well as an acrylic on tarpaulin original of his Flower Thrower image. From small pieces to wall murals and statues, the exhibition represents a wide range of the graffiti artists religious, political and societally satirical pieces. Famous (or infamous) for his humorous take on the human condition and the state of the world, Banksy has drawn attention to some deep issues and forced viewers to consider their part.
There was some repetition in pieces throughout the gallery; a screen-print may be of the same image depicted in a photograph of the original urban art. However, I would contend that this has been done purposefully, to allow the viewers to see the piece close up, as well as seeing it in its originally intended context.
Many of his originals were not behind glass, which recreates the nature of street art and makes you feel like you can really engage with the displays. There is also a video documentary playing in the gallery on Banksy and his work, which is worth a watch and may help in understanding the importance of this exhibition.
With special student prices, a restaurant, and a bar out the back, it is definitely worth visiting if you’ve got an interest in Banksy, street art or you just feel like soaking up some culture.
This exhibition is open into January, seven days each week between 11am- 9pm. I visited at 8pm on a Tuesday, which was a quiet time, allowing me to really explore the works at my own pace. Despite the lack of crowd, there was plenty of atmosphere and the staff and guests were all just as enthusiastic to be there.
I would certainly recommend the exhibition, and I commend the curators on putting together an insightful yet entertaining display.