Graffiti is the art of regular people; these people are not considered artists but the criminalised voice of the populace. For most artists, gaining recognition and selling their works for high-prices is a life-long aspiration and for the most recognition doesn’t happen before death. Graffiti artists don’t have these ambitions and from city to coast we can admit to admiring the aesthetic value and eccentric expressions that are portrayed by Graffiti artists.
They portray quirky, humorous artworks and provide a political voice for the lower class people of the world.
Largely emerging in the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s, Graffiti was the people’s way of expressing their feelings about anti-consumerism, anti-war, feminist and political issues. It is the art that has attitude and makes every surface of a city an installation that brings people together and provokes thought about the world as it is.
A largely popular quasi-anonymous graffiti artist that is supposedly from Bristol, England is Banksy.
As his artworks were considered criminal he ensured that his real name was not discovered by the media and to this day remains anonymous. Inspired by local artists and the Bristol underground scene, Banksy initially employed freehand and stencilling techniques to create his pieces but later converted to stencilling entirely after “realising how much less time it took to complete a piece” (Wikipedia, 2008).
He used graffiti to “promote alternative aspects of politics from those promoted by mainstream media” (Sewell, 2010) and provided a voice for people affected by political issues that could not express their emotions.
It is highly debated as to whether graffiti is in fact art or vandalism with many people regarding the work of Banksy and similar artists such as Blek le Rat and Jef Aerosol as straight up criminal destruction. In regards to Banksy’s work being vandalism he states that “Some people become cops because they want to make the world a better place.
Some people become vandals because they want to make the world a better looking place” (Vidar, 2011). Though, to this day graffiti that is not approved legally is considered a criminal act that is punishable, instead of being seen as art brightening the bland streets of this world. Above: Artwork by Banksy of a police officer snorting cocaine. Not only does Banksy regard his pieces to be artworks, Terrance Lindall an artist and executive director of the Williamsburg Art and Historic Centre also made a tatement about graffiti, he says, “Graffiti is revolutionary, in my opinion and any revolution might be considered a crime. People who are oppressed or suppressed need an outlet, so they write on walls—it’s free” (Ciuraru, 2006) Despite the social and economic status of the people holding these high opinions of graffiti art, be the lower class or even highly educated, Banksy remains an artistic fugitive in hiding and graffiti still remains illegal.
Banksy is essentially a modern day, anonymous Andy Warhol that has the clear capacity to insult, irritate and mock, in the most educated way possible. He is the representation of everyone, he remains anonymous as there is no need to meet such an artist; we would simply have to look in the mirror and we would find Banksy. He has the ability to delve deep into the thoughts of common society and voice the feelings that people are afraid to exploit publicly, which makes him an incredibly powerful figure.
His artworks promote the underdogs, the suppressed mentality of an entire societal collective, the mentality of the corrupt and the moral deterioration that continues to spread like an uncontrollable wild fire. Even though Banksy is rebelling against not only the law, but politics and those in society who disagree with his creations he was also rebelling against the movements of other artists at the time.
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