By Ana Mengotti
Miami, Jan 19 (EFE).- The talent of provocative, mysterious and pseudonymous England-based street artist Banksy is now on display in Miami in a well-traveled exhibit that offers visitors an immersive experience consisting of original works, reproductions and a handful of surprises, including a metro station where pieces of video art – as opposed to trains – race by.
Having previously inspired art lovers on three continents and been seen by more than 1.2 million people, according to organizers, “The Art of Banksy: Without Limits” is now showing people in the Magic City his uncanny ability to get to the heart of societal problems and nearly always drive his points home with intelligence and beauty.
Banksy is an artist who is as popular for the striking images found in his works as he is anonymous as a person, successfully maintaining a halo of mystery over his identity.
Presented by eventS and SEE Global Entertainment, the three-month engagement at Ice Palace Studios comprises several immersive experiences and more than 155 of the artist’s works, including certified originals, prints, photos, lithographs, sculptures, murals and video installations.
More than 20 of Banksy’s works were carefully reproduced with his stencil technique especially for the Miami exhibition, including his March 2021 mural “Create Escape,” which originally appeared on the walls of a prison near London.
Banksy’s most recognized works, including his stencil mural of a girl with her hand extended toward a heart-shaped balloon (“Girl with Balloon”) and his stencil of a man throwing a bouquet of flowers instead of a Molotov cocktail (“Love Is in the Air”), are on display in an exhibit that has the look of a retrospective.
“The Art of Banksy: Without Limits” showcases works ranging from the 1990s to 2021 that mix critiques of consumerism, warmongering and the humanitarian tragedy facing migrants with works featuring Queen Elizabeth II, Jesus, Kate Moss, Mother Teresa, Dorothy (from “The Wizard of Oz”), John Travolta and Diana, Princess of Wales.
Banksy’s tongue-in-cheek style is seen in “Monkey Queen,” in which the black-and-white stenciled face of a monkey is superimposed onto one of Queen Elizabeth II’s most famous bust images, and in “Turf War,” in which he adds a grass mohawk to a famous portrait of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to re-imagine him as a punk rocker.
Rats, which abound in Banksy’s works as a symbol of the street and the millions of dispossessed people worldwide, are a prolific subject in this detail-rich exhibition.
Whether painted on walls or the ceiling, where a rat with a paintbrush is seen alongside a “bleeding heart,” or infesting a bathroom in one of his installations, the rodents are everywhere.
The exhibit also includes “Devolved Parliament,” an oil on canvas showing chimpanzees standing in for politicians in the House of Commons that was sold in 2019 for the equivalent of $12.2 million.
Banksy’s opposition to war and weapons, a recurrent theme in his work, is seen in images of doves wearing bulletproof vests and another of a man holding up a sign reading “Golf Sale” while standing in front of a row of tanks.
That latter work is a reinterpretation of an iconic photograph taken in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre.
Meanwhile, an oil on canvas of a boy holding a superhero nurse doll while figures of Batman and Spider-Man lie discarded a waste paper bin serves as Banksy’s commentary on the Covid-19 pandemic and a tribute to its real heroes.
The exhibit opens and closes with two thought-provoking Banksy quotes printed on the walls: “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” and “A wall is a very big weapon. It’s one of the nastiest things you can hit someone with.” EFE