When Art creates awareness: Banksy and the Street Art

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01 October 2019

When Art creates awareness: Banksy and the thousand shades of Street Art

Benedetta Cerri

If I say Street Art, what comes to your mind?

Graffiti.

I'm sure that many of you didn't take long to associate these two terms.

For several years now, Street Art has invaded walls and public spaces, becoming a real socio-cultural phenomenon. People tend to consider more its illegal aspect than its artistic nature, but behind those touches of color, there is definitely a clear message.

It's a fact, some artists prefer the walls to the canvas!

Yes, but why?

When I started to document myself about these forms of expression, I obviously look for the greatest artists who made Street Art the phenomenon everybody knows today and, of course, I found him. Probably the most famous one.
I'm talking about Banksy, of course.

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Waiting in Vain, Banksy


The silent artist, who began to paint on the public walls of Bristol and then became one of the greatest international writers. For years we have been wondering about his identity trying to find the creator who was hiding behind those masterpieces. The truth is, even if this hidden identity creates curiosity and mystery, what matters, in the end, is that Banksy's works have been appreciated, no matter who he is.

The British artist is the example of those who chose to be heard by those who tried to ignore his message. It is no coincidence if, in one of his most famous phrases, he remembers:

"When you go to an Art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires."

One of the artist's objectives is to make Art a more accessible world for people, a stage on which everyone can express their talent.

Today Art is a place where you have to ask permission to enter and if you don't get it you can't do anything about it. So that's why street artists like Banksy decided to write their story, no longer within the walls of a gallery, but outside where everything seems freer.

They denounce facts, paint their thoughts about the world, some with joy and love, others with anger or disappointment. The wall is for them an exit where they can talk to people and simply be themselves.

And so through soldiers, children, policemen, celebrities, monkeys, and rats, Banksy writes his truth.

His provocative attitude never ceases to amaze his audience and in the meantime, between one wall and the other, he is the spokesperson for his ideals.

Cause, in the end, they are much more than graffiti.

He might be whispering, but he's making himself heard. He fills the walls of the cities, drawing his thoughts and turning his works into real tourist attractions.

Just like Kissing Coppers, one of the most tangible signs of Banksy's provocative Art: the image of homosexuality that mocks authority but at the same time invites us to reflect on homophobia, in a world where homosexuality is often hidden and where those who openly declare themselves to be gay represent an exception. 

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Kissing Coppers, Banksy

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Mobile Lovers, Banksy

He shows also that love can have many nuances, and sometimes not pleasant.

This is the case of Mobile Lovers, the representation of two lovers hugging, who instead of enjoying the moment and abandoning themselves to their love, are looking at their phones.

 

Certainly not one of the happiest portraits of our society, but one which I'm sure will make you echo.
Once again, Art is a tool for reflection and is the mirror of some behaviors that we sometimes have and don't realize.

This artwork was made on the door of a Bristol club, the Broad Plains Boys Club.

Today, instead of the graffiti, there is a sign indicating that the work is inside the club to prevent it from being damaged by vandalism and the club is asking for a donation to be able to enter and see it. 

 A young boy who works there explained that the club is going through a time of severe economic crisis and added:

"There's a long wall a bit further on which Banksy could have drawn his work but he didn't, so we think he did it to help us raise funds."

So an Art that doesn't just "dirty the walls", but that teaches, makes you think and supports good causes.

Street Art, like all other forms of Art, makes us more aware.

Why keep them hidden? We only risk losing their full potential.

On the other hand, Banksy also says it: Art must be experienced by anyone who wants it.

Remove barriers, we don't need them.



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