THE ART OF BANKSY. A Visual Protest
Banksy, a British artist and writer whose identity is still unknown, is considered one of the leading exponents of contemporary street art. His works are often laced with satire and deal with universal subjects such as politics, culture, and ethics. The shroud of mystery that, by choice and out of necessity, is perpetuated when we talk about Bansky has turned him into an absolute legend of our day and age. His visual protest engages with a vast and heterogeneous public and has made him one of the best loved artists among the younger generations. Although many Bansky exhibitions have been organized by art galleries and other exhibition spaces, a public Italian museum has never hosted a monographic exhibition of his work. Until now that is. For the first time ever, the MUDEC-Museo delle Culture di Milano is hosting a retrospective on the British artist's work. The exhibition is not authorized by the artist, like all those that have been devoted to his work until now. Banksy continues to defend his anonymity and independence from the art system. “A Visual Protest. The Art of Banksy”, at MUDEC from 21 November 2018, is curated by Gianni Mercurio, showcasing about 80 works including paintings, sculptures and prints by the British artist, accompanied by objects, photographs, and videos, about 60 album and CD covers, which the artist himself curated, and about forty pieces of memorabilia (lithographs, stickers, prints, magazines, fanzines, tickets, promotional flyers), that retrospectively describe the work and thinking of Banksy. A path that is in its own way academic and unusual, but coherent with the mission of a museum like MUDEC, i.e. that of providing all types of audiences with a key to the interpretation (and appreciation) of the cultures of the world and the major themes of our contemporary age by way of the visual, performative, and sound arts. Promoted by the Comune di Milano-Cultura and 24 ORE Cultura-Gruppo 24 ORE, which is also the producer, A Visual Protest. The Art of Banksy, conceived by Madeinart, is divided into several sections aimed at stimulating our critical reflection and (what may be) Banksy's place within the more general context of the history of contemporary art. The exhibition is also part of a vaster scientific project conceived by MUDEC called “Geografie del futuro”, a tale on “geographical knowledge” envisioned as the vision of territories and cultures and the crossing of borders, seen through the lens of various subjects for study. The Museo delle Culture along with its visitors ponders the theme of geography, seeking to understand which types of “geography” will define the confines of our knowledge of the world in the future, in a way that increasingly reduces spaces thanks to technology, and where the places and non-places to explore become more and more complex and elusive. In particular, in Banksy's art the relationship with geography and the landscape are connoted by absolutely "social" features: the relationship with the human landscape in which Banksy expresses himself, often in war zones, which even politics and institutions struggle to reach, the experimental approach, the theory of "psychogeography” inspired by Situationism, according to which the space of the artist is the territory. A Visual Protest. The Art of Banksy is the third exhibition in the overall project called “Geografie del futuro”.
BANKSY, ART AND SOCIO-POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT
There is much speculation about his name and his identity.
He was born and grew up in Bristol, but apart from this little or nothing is known about him: it is impossible to find out the details of his life although many have attempted to do so.
Gianni Mercurio, curator of the exhibition, recalls how one characteristic the “writers” of yesterday (the artists who in early seventies New York sprayed the first graffiti on the exteriors of the subway carriages and later on the walls of the New York stations) share with today’s street artists is their multicultural origins. The first writers “came from various New York neighbourhoods with diverse communities (the blacks of Harlem, the Hispanics and Italians of the Bronx and the lower East Side). It is no accident that the primary effect of their expression was the invention of a new style of writing that previously didn’t exist, an amalgam of many lettering styles from Arabic script to Western and Asian scripts. In this panorama” Mercurio states, “Banksy amplifies and expands the multicultural character of the “writers” who initially formally inspired him: like the street artists of his generation, he accentuates the content of the socio-political messages in an explicit way, indeed he radically shifts the message from the form to the content”. His message, his art, manifests itself as an explicit and scathing criticism directed at the arrogance of the establishment, of power, conformism, war, and consumerism.
As Shepard Fairey explained, “His works are full of metaphors that transcend language barriers. The images are entertaining and witty, and yet so simple and accessible: even six-year old children who have no concept of cultural conflict, have no problem seeing that there is something not quite right when they see the Mona Lisa with a rocket launcher.” In Banksy’s work the words often go beyond an aesthetic evaluation (which in any case goes against the grain of the artist’s sensibilities) or a declaration of intent, but highlight his firm stance against the contemporary art system. In view of the empathy between Banksy and a young audience, how do the critics and the market (a more decisive factor than ever on the contemporary art scene) view the British artist? Banksy’s work is now beginning to interest the major art dealers and to be hung in the homes of the most important trend-setting collectors. Contrary to what the artist would probably wish for, opposed as he is to the capitalist validation of art, the value of his work is increasing exponentially, creating what Mercurio describes as a “further short circuit around Banksy, coming on top of the ones that already surround this almost legendary figure.”
Tuesday / Wednesday
Friday / Sunday
Thursday and Saturday
TICKET OFFICE WILL CLOSE ONE HOUR PRIOR TO THE CLOSING OF THE EXHIBITION