I can be short about this one: the Banksy exhibition ‘The Art of Banksy’ (last week still in Amsterdam, now in Antwerp) is a tourist trap. If you are really into Banksy, there are other options. Do not believe the hype that it’s a must-go exhibition, whatever the media or the so called experts try to make you believe. The entire setting is wrong. Brick or ‘arty-farty’ wallpaper to present ‘street-art-for-galleries’, cardboard & fake stencils plus to indispensable spray cans to ‘show’ how Banksy works, hardly any original street work and above all, a ‘street-art-for-the-masses vibe. We visited the expo (helàs!) in Amsterdam and could not get out fast enough. Compare it with eating a cheap pizza in a bad Italian restaurant and thinking that you visited Rome. Got the picture?
Don’t get me wrong. I love Banksy and his work. We visited Dismaland (twice), Bristol, Calais & London, to see his work. Because let’s face it, the best place to see a Banksy is still in the street, were it belongs. It’s not easy to find some originals, most of them are taken away by greedy art buyers, destroyed by the government or just oversprayed by other graffiti artists.
And yes we know that he joined the gallery-jet-set to sell his street-art’ on paper. Work on demand, limited editions, not so limited editions, enfin, he’s making money and he mocks with it. A quote on one of his gallery works: “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit”.
He is clear about his work on the street: it belongs to the street, and he does not take any copyrights on it, nor he cares about taking down his street stencil work. It’s the law of the street.
So, if you want to feel Banksy‘s style and ironic vision on the world we live in, Bristol is the first step. Or check out a show he throws himself, they’re the best. ( Think Dismaland or the Barely Legal Exhibition in L.A.) Expect endless waiting lines but hey, they’re worth it.
Another better but less rock n roll option is the private collection at Moco in Amsterdam. Also NOT authorized by Banksy, but no commercial gallery expo* ever is.
This ‘museum’ is an initiative of Lionel en Kim Logchies, owners of the Lionel Gallery in the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat. 40 pieces of Banksy are on display and at least here you have originals like the work ‘Beanfield’, parts of some wall pieces (taken down out of the street, sorry…), and a great police SWAT van. This work shows heavily armed police agents being tricked by a little boy, sprayed on a real SWAT van. Banksy’s way of ridiculing the police, using their vehicle of power as his canvas, first shown at the Barely Legal Exhibition LA 10 years ago. In the garden look for the huge stenciled wall piece (protected by glass) that hardly nobody notices. Typical…
Good to know, part of Moco’s proceeds is donated to the charities close to the hearts of the initiative containers.
If you want to go, hurry up, Banksy expo only till 31 jan ’17!
More about Banksy on this blog? Read these older posts about our visit to Dismaland and his NY project “Better out than in”. Enjoy.
All photos by Kate Stockman.