The UK’s artist, Banksy just finished a trip to Palestine, where he tackled the blank canvas that is the West Bank barrier between Israel and Palestine. Wooster Collective has a gallery of photos of some of his work. Truly striking. The Guardian has a brief article about his trip, and a gallery with a few additional photos. Wired magazine also just recently came out with an article on Banksy, highlighting some of his work.
I think he’s truly a brilliant artist, and every new piece he comes up with is as thought-provoking as the last. Unfortunately I’m a bit disappointed that he is never referred to as an artist without adding numerous qualifying adjectives to the word. “Guerilla graffiti artist,” “Spray can prankster,” “hacking the art world,” and the worst yet, “a self-described ‘art terrorist.'” Why would you descsribe yourself as an “art terrorist”? Does he think this helps his cause? No, I certainly doubt it. Does it make him more provocative? Sure. How will we see Banksy in 5, 10, 20 years? Will he be seen as an artist ahead of his times, such as a Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, or (the obvious parallel) a Jean-Michel Basquiat? Can he achieve this coveted status of famous (and famously misunderstood) artist without some sort of tragedy such as an untimely death, or repeated arrests for his illegal work? What if he just grows old, and his art and ideas go downhill until he dies of natural causes? My guess is he’d just be forgotten as yet another “spray-can prankster” who could never move beyond the shock-value tactics of youth. I’m really curious what direction he’ll go. He claims to be anti-corporate and has refused offers from Nike, but Banksy is already heading in the direction of other street-art icons, such as Shepard Fairey, selling books of his work (may be sold by an un-related third party, I’m not sure). Maybe a Banksy clothing line is next, without compromising his precious status as an “art-terrorist,” “hacking the art world,” of course.