ANONYMOUS British graffiti artist and political activist Banksy has landed in Barcelona – at the Espacio Trafalgar, or ‘Trafalgar Hall’, with over 100 life-sized reproductions of his or her works.
Believed to be a well-known male musician born in Bristol in the west of England – but as yet unconfirmed – Banksy’s identity is the biggest cultural mystery since the authorship of the scandalous, establishment-rocking picaresque novel Lazarillo de Tormes, written in Spain in the 16th century and now on almost every set book list for students of the country’s artistic and social history.
‘The World of Banksy’ includes graphic homages to the Paris terrorist attacks, and shows a politician giving a dog a bone whilst holding a saw behind his back – typical of the urban artist’s attempt to touch a nerve in society.
His or her latest work appeared overnight in Bristol and featured a young girl cutting up a giant heart with scissors to ‘celebrate’ Valentine’s Day.
Hasis Vadar, commissioner and promoter at the Espacio Trafalgar – which opened recently, with exhibitions by 10 different artists – says Banksy is against the idea of copyright or royalties as he or she wants their creations to reach everyone, and for this reason, there are no legal issues to reproducing the artist’s works.
So far, ‘The World of Banksy’ has been exhibited in the Lafayette Drouot gallery in Paris, and attracted 150,000 visitors.
A large number of the murals now in Barcelona no longer exist in public, because they have been wiped off the walls they appeared on originally, or were stolen, and are now only out there on the internet.
The 100 or so exhibits are life-sized copies of murals painted by the unknown urban artist in the last 20 years in France, the USA, the UK, Israel and Palestine.
‘Street sounds’ playing in the background give extra authenticity to Banksy’s exhibition in Barcelona, Vadar explains – police sirens, traffic noise, and loud, muffled voices, to give the viewer the impression of being in the heart of a large city.
Works include a mural of the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Paris revolution, the ‘No Ball Games’, the ‘Rat out of bed’, the girl with the balloon and ‘there is always hope’, the ‘flower-thrower’, the Israel-Palestine pillow-fight, and the ‘laugh while you still can’, among others.
Vadar says that even though nobody knows who Banksy is, he hopes he or she is ‘happy with the exhibition’ at the Trafalgar centre.