Viewing Room: Banksy (British, 1974): April 2023

1 - 30 April 2023
  • Made in Bristol
    Photo courtesy Steve Lazarides

    Made in Bristol

    Since arriving on the Bristol underground art scene in the 1990s, Banksy (whose real identity remains a mystery) has been behind some of the most audacious and witty guerrila art around the globe. Getting his start in tagged graffiti, the British artist quickly adopted his signature graphic street art style where he spray paints using pre-made stencils.


    His recurring subjects-rats, police, children-are often presented in ironic juxtapositions that critique political authority, consumerism, and terrorism.


    "All graffiti is low-level dissent, but stencils have an extra history. They've been used to start revolutions and to stop wars," says Banksy, whose most famous works include paintings on Israel's West Bank barrier wall that imagine an opening to the Palestinian side, and "Rage, Flower Thrower," a rioter stenciled in black and white whose bomb is replaced by a colorful flower bouquet.

  • The world's most known unknown
     Photo courtesy Steve Lazarides

    The world's most known unknown

    In addition to his distinctive graffiti which has appeared extensively throughout London and Bristol, his stunts include incorporating his own artworks into the collections of major museums such as the Louvre and Tate Modern and selling his canvases, worth tens of thousands of dollars at the time, in New York's Central Park for $60. Eschewing the gallery system, Banksy has made a plea to keep artworks outside "on the cave walls of our communities."


    Since 2001, when he presented works in an abandoned subway tunnel that he painted white, the artist has continued to exhibit in unconventional spaces such as industrial warehouses in London and Los Angeles.

  • Universal. Ubiquitous. Underground.
    Banksy interviewed in 'Exit Through the Gift Shop' (2010)

    Universal. Ubiquitous. Underground.

    2010 saw the artist widening his oeuvre, with Exit Through the Giftshop, a mock documentary on street art, which premiered in a pop-up cinema in a London underpass.


    Fellow street artist Shepard Fairey described the film as "a way for Banksy to tell his story but at the same time critique the street art phenomenon," proving that for Bansky, even his own art practice is not off limits.

  • "I don't know why people are so keen to put the details of their private life in public; they forget that invisibility is a superpower"

    - Banksy
  • An anti-art world approach

    'Silent Majority' (1998) painted at the 1998 Glastonbury Festival as a graffiti show outside the dance tent. The work was created over three days.

    An anti-art world approach

    Having never entered the formal 'gallery system', Banksy has purposefully avoided signing up to galleries or dealers, instead choosing to represent himself via his close-knit team.


    Exhibition highlights include Walls on Fire (Bristol, 22 - 23 August 1998), Early exhibition in Easton (Bristol, ca 1998), Severnshed (Bristol, February 2000), Rivington Street (London, 2001), Peace is Though (Glasgow, March 2001. Collective exhibition), Existencilism (Los Angeles, 19 July 2002), Santa's Ghetto 02 (London, 2002), Semipermanent (Sydney, 2003), Turf War (London, July 2003), Santa's Ghetto 03 (London, December 2003), The Segregation Wall (Palestine, August 2005), Crude Oils (London, October 2005), Santa's Ghetto 05 (London, December 2005. Collective exhibition), Barely Legal (September 2006), Santa's Ghetto 07 (Palestine, December 2007. Collective street art exhibition in Palestine), The Cans Festival (London, May 2008), Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill (New York, October 2008), Banksy vs Bristol Museum (June 2009.Banksy's fourth major exhibition), Marks and Stencils (November 2010, London), MOCA Los Angeles (April 2011). Better Out Than In (New York, October 2013), Gaza (February 2015), Dismaland (August - September 2015 - Banksy's the sixth major exhibition), The Walled Off Hotel (Palestine, March 2017 and ongoing), Gross Domestic Product (October 2019, individual exhibition held in Croydon - Banksy's eighth major exhibition).

  • Available works