Edmonton loves Banksy. To create the best experience a limited number of tickets are sold for each time slot. Banksyland shows often sell out, so it is important to purchase tickets early. This is the line up of people waiting for their time slot to enter the Banksyland Traveling Art Exhibition Edmonton.
Banksy's identity is a closely guarded secret. What is known is that he is British. And other than his dark sense of humor and thoughts on certain matters, that is about all that is known. He is an outspoken activist and strongly opposes war, violence, oppression, and the abuse of power. His imagery often contrasts the innocence of youth with the violence of war and oppression.
"I like to think I have the guts to... call for things no-one else believes in – like peace and justice and freedom." Banksy. The Flower Thrower is one of Banksy's most iconic paintings. Since appearing on a wall in the West Bank, it has been replicated thousands of times. This piece is about standing up against power and oppression, not with violence, but with love. Therefore, it is also known at Love is in the Air. This piece was brought to life at the Banksyland Traveling Art Exhibition Edmonton with this life-sized statue and with a video of the protester throwing flowers.
One of the most beloved pieces and infamous pieces created by Banksy is the Girl with the Red Balloon. The image below is a black and white version of the iconic image. The painting depicts the moment that childhood innocence is lost.
Another reason for this painting being so well known is for the stir it caused a Sotheby's auction. A print of this iconic image sold for $1.4 Million (USD). However, that is not what caused the stir. As soon as the auctioneer declared the piece sold an alarm sounded triggering a mechanism hidden inside the frame. To everyone's astonishment, especially the buyer's, the print started to shred! The Banksyland Traveling Art Exhibition Edmonton included a video showing the piece self-destruct and then opening it to see the mechanism on the inside. Not to worry, you don't need to feel bad for the person that bought the painting that was instantly destroyed. It was renamed, Love is in the Bin and they later sold it for $25.4 million USD!
Interestingly, Banksy did what most people would do after the painting sold. Well, sort of. He bought a boat. Actually, he bought a former French Navy Boat, the M.V. Louise Michel. Which, Banksy funded to sail the Mediterranean operating as rescue vessel for refugees.
Representing those that are overlooked, and under-estimated rats are symbols of resilience against all odds. The rats are challenge society's perceptions of value. Most famous among Banksy's rats are Radar Rat and Gangsta Rat. Constant vigilance, Radar Rat keeps a watchful eye on the city whereas Gangsta Rat appears to be the king of New York's underground style.
Naturally, being a street artist means that Banksy has a complicated relationship with law enforcement. His dislike of police is no secret either. Perhaps it is because, like Radar Rat he has seen how authority sometimes treats the disadvantaged. Rude Copper critics authority's disdain and treatment of the underprivileged.
In this painting, Banksy appears to be questioning the role of the military in keeping the peace. Here one soldier is painting a peace sign, while the other watches over ready for violence at any second.
These Wrong War, No War cardboard protest signs are from the early 2000's. Banksy is a vocal anti-war, anti-violence activist. These signs were used during protests to challenge portrayal of war in a positive light. He is calling out the politicians that were justifying war as a way to establish peace. Adding a pink ribbon to the helicopters is another way that Banksy contrasts the violence of war with childhood innocence. The smiley face on death is mocking the positive portrayal of war.
Banksy's Horse Rider takes the iconic image of Napoleon Crossing the Alps and replaces Napoleon with a lady wearing a red head scarf. The painting appeared in Paris in 2018 and likely represents a few things that Banksy takes issue with like the treatment of immigrants, France's 2010 ban on burkas, and their response to the European Refugee Crisis. He is calling out actions and policies that contradict France's national motto of liberty, equality and fraternity.
Seeing and being immersed in Banksy's dark humor and somber imagery at the Banksyland Traveling Art Exhibition Edmonton was thought-provoking to say the least. On the one-hand it would be cool if Edmonton had a Banksy mural. Yet, on the other hand, I am glad that we don't. Because, Banksy's art always has a political message to it. And, it's one that you probably don't want to be on the wrong side of. Never-the-less, I love Banksy's art and enjoyed experiencing the Banksyland Traveling Art Exhibition Edmonton. I am looking forward to one-day seeing an original Banksy on the streets... just in someone else's town.
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I really enjoyed this story about Banksy. Someone who says what many others do not have the courage to say in art.
Thank you. It was a really interesting show. Banksy sure is courageous, especially when you think about the places he goes to in order to share his message.
Thank you so much for profiling this art exhibition, Janet, as I missed it when it was in Vancouver a couple of months ago. You have saved me the exhibition price. Actually, it still remains on my list aa he has an important message to the world, and it would be so interesting to see this in person. Another (of many) interesting artists who has a very dramatic art installation is Yayoi Kusama. I believe her "Infinity Mirrors" is at the Art Gallery of Ontario. We shall have to send Janel happy)