Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Finally...The Exhibition

The exhibition was roughly split up into four areas: the room of Banksy’s paintings, a room of installations with an animal rights theme (no photos of this as the low light, flash restriction and moving objects did not lend itself to decent snappage), the lobby, filled with the burnt out ice cream truck in yesterdays post and statues, and then the upper galleries of the museum which were sporadically littered with added objects and subverted paintings.
Although I was vaguely aware of Banksy, and his hilarious ability to highlight the petty and self righteous bureaucracy of various agencies, I hadn’t really paid much attention to him, and would never have visited the exhibition if it my friend hadn’t suggested it.
Now, I’m a confirmed fan. His works attract your attention and make you laugh, which I think is valuable in itself. When did laughter become a totally unacceptable response to art? I remember the filthy looks me and (the same) friend got in the National Portrait Gallery when we came across a portrait of Sir Francis Drake, trussed into a salmon pink, frilly get up, and the dissonance between what that image says to us in the 21st century, that basically he looks like a bit of a pansy who is probably going to get a good kicking, and the reality of him being a chancer and a pirate, engaged in the dangerous activity of poetically-politically courting Elizabeth was just too much, and we dissolved into laughter.
But after that, little thoughts come unbidden into your mind, little thoughts about big things. He seems to manage, with an appearance of effortlessness, what a lot of modern artists fail to do, with a great deal of self indulgent pomp and waffling and postmodernist justification.
This image was one of my favourites, although perhaps a tad depressing to have as a print in the living room.
These are two of the subverted paintings that were inserted into the art gallery section. Some of them seemed a bit samey, or had a hint of done by numbers about them, but I loved these two, Agency Worker and Flight Into Egypt.
I liked the sudden, shocking reminder of Agency Worker that the anonymous peasants in bucolic English pastorals, for some reason Contable in particular was brought to mind, were not only real humans, but often, far from living in a rural idyll, had to survive shoddy living and working conditions, considerable insecurity and the threat of destitution. How often though, are these people almost invisible to us when we looks at pastoral paintings.


  1. I really enjoy the photo tour with you on this exhibition. Thanks.

  2. Hmmm....

    I've enjoyed Banksy for a long while and though I would go see this if I were in Britain, at the same time I feel uncomfortable with his stuff in an art gallery.

    What attracted me to Banksy in the first place was his subversion, his surprises. It's just not as interesting to me to see his ideas so obviously on display. To me, it doesn't work. It's like old Bob Dylan folk songs used to sell cars.

    Sorry! ;-)

  3. I have enjoyed your posts about the exhibit though, J... just to be clear! :-)

  4. Wonderful tour, thank you.

  5. I really like "flight into Egypt" and the train, that reminds me of "The Little Engine that Could." Thanks for the tour.

  6. Magic wee tour of the exhibition and some of the clowns who queued to see it, cheers for that, J.

    Also gave Ms TB the opportunity to get those thoughts off her chest.

    I kinda agree with her that Banksy's supposed to be about in situ graffiti based art and not stuck inside a frame. But it's hard to see the in situ stuff except in coffee table book form and that's a bit dull.

    Plus there's no much dosh in graffiti - prints and posters and original pieces sell much better and for all his worldly concerns, Banksy's in it for at least a bit o the foldin stuff.