The Art of Banksy will feature more than 80 of the notorious street artist’s works in an exhibition space in Melbourne next month—and Banksy has nothing to do with it. Rather than an original and self-curated ‘exhibition’ like the twisted theme park that was Dismaland, The Art of Banksy is a display of Banksy’s works owned by private collectors around the globe. The pieces that will be on show include ‘Girl with Balloon’, ‘Flag Wall’ and ‘Laugh Now’.
The retrospective is curated by the artist’s former agent Steve Lazarides, who admits “Banksy and I haven’t spoken for over a year”. However, Lazarides is passionate about Banksy’s works and the impact they can have on the public. While the retrospective may not have Banksy’s blessing, Lazarides believes in the relevance of Banksy’s works today and the need for them to be exhibited:
“I started looking at his paintings and a lot of them have more relevance now than when they were painted. I think it’s good to get it back out there and for people to start talking about things.”
Street art is democratic in the sense that anyone can do it – it’s grassroots, it’s anti-establishment, and it exists outside the exclusive world of white-walled galleries. However, Lazarides was a key figure in delivering graffiti and street art to the mainstream art market. Banksy and renowned street artists now sell their work for hundreds of thousands of dollars. While this may seem to contradict street art’s guerilla roots, bringing it into the world of high art legitimises it as an art form. Lazarides believes today’s stagnant art world needs a refreshing political boost, and street art is the answer:
“I’m a pathological hater of the art world at the moment because you’ve got so many people talking and no one saying anything… It’s odd. If you look at someone like Bansky or [French photographer and artist] JR, they’re out there and they’ve got a voice and a message. These guys are fucking global superstars. By not compromising, doing what they want, and saying what they want. I think the world needs a bit more of that.
The Melbourne exhibition will be held at The Paddock in Federation Square, complete with DJs and food trucks at the courtesy of Welcome to Thornbury. Works by local street artists will also be exhibited.
Banksy will probably hate the idea of it, but hey, his works will be out there for Banksy fans, Banksy haters, and most importantly people that have never even heard of Banksy before. The retrospective is bound to make an impact, and in the end that’s what Lazarides wants.
The Art of Banksy will show from October 7 to January 22 at The Paddock, Federation Square. You can get your hands on tickets here.
- Words: Maki Morita