The world’s largest Banksy exhibition comes to Dubai

anamika@khaleejtimes.com Filed on April 8, 2021

The World of Banksy will be on till June 30, at The Theatre, Mall of the Emirates

In the 80s, a bored schoolboy found a calling in street art. Little did he know that decades later that calling will resonate among masses across the world, making his art a cult unto itself. The Banksy story — told and retold through the years — is fascinating not only because the legendary street artist has chosen to conceal his identity successfully through the decades, but also because he’s found power in anonymity even in the peak of his fame.

With the kind of following Banksy commands, it’s easy to imagine curious followers wanting to know just a little bit more about him. But such is the power of the message and the messenger that many now actively protest any attempts made to reveal his identity. The day we know who he really is, say the supporters, the graffiti will end.

What turned Banksy into a phenomenon? To cite an example, when he decided to make the city his canvas, many alleged that it was vandalism. The artist argued his work was, in fact, a response to brandalism — the compulsive need to put out advertising posters and billboards in public spaces that one has no choice but to look at. This is the essence of Banksy, the rebel, whose works speak to the audience and evoke an emotion that many fear to spell out. Over the years, followers have drawn their own imagery of who he might be — but look into his artworks closely and he conveys where he sees his place in the world. In the 90s, a substantial number of his works had a recurrent rat imagery. The symbolism was hard to miss. Rats might be insignificant creatures, but they co-exist in the city with the high and mighty. It is also said that when the human race disappears, only rats will survive. Invisibility gives the artist a shot at being a part of the context and yet be able to comment on it incisively. It makes him a nobody and an Everyman at the same time.

At the new exhibition of recreated artworks of Banksy in The Theatre, Mall of the Emirates, one glimpses into 120 works that turned Banksy into the star that he is today. From Palestine to UK and US, you can see the sheer range of his commentary on the human condition. The exhibition, produced by Hazis Vardar of The World of Banksy, had 10 artists working for over 40 days to recreate Banksy’s street art on the walls of the premises.

“These artworks will be destroyed after the exhibition, nothing will be sold.” Vardar has never met Banksy or spoken to him, but like legions of fans, he feels it’s important for the artist’s identity to remain hidden. “People have understood that most important thing is the message. For his artworks to shine, it’s important for his identity to be hidden. Maybe he is here, maybe he is not. That won’t change the meaning of the message. There is a philosophical point here. What are we watching — the glass or the content of water in the glass?”

The World of Banksy will be on till June 30, at The Theatre, Mall of the Emirates

wknd@khaleejtimes.com

Anamika Chatterjee





 
 
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