“Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody could draw wherever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at the bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business.” – Banksy: Wall and Piece
Perhaps the most famous graffiti artist ever, Banksy is a pseudonymous London-based street artist who is known for using black and white spray paint and stencils to create politically-inspired silhouettes around England’s urban landscape. His work is typically motivated by themes of war, police violence, capitalism, consumption, and anti-establishment satire. Common images throughout his graffiti are citizens wearing gas masks, anthropomorphized rats and monkeys unleashing subtle mayhem, and fake official street signs such as “Designated Riot Zone” or “Designated Graffiti Area.” Photographs of his work are assembled in the 2005 compilation Banksy: Wall and Piece. The book includes images of street art on the segregation wall in Palestine, writing from inside enclosures in a Barcelona zoo, and fake vandalized paintings in museums of icons like the Mona Lisa and Monet’s water lilies. Interestingly, most of the captions include time stamps of how long a piece lasted until it was painted over by street officials or removed.
I’d been painting rats for three years before someone said, ‘That’s clever its an anagram of art’ and I had to pretend I’d known that all along.