Graffiti – Revolution or Vandalism


Exit Through the Gift Shop“, a documentary that brought me one step closer to Graffiti art, more incisively “Street Art” as it is in the modern era. The documentary reveals to the audience, passion, love and skill which some people around the world possess, and effortlessly mediate thoughts into art. Exit from the Gift shop, exit being the joke, on who is uncertain, may be Thierry for being hoax or on us, the public or media for unable to identify true art. The movie seemed authentic and it definitely was simple enough to be true.

Some quotes I found hilarious, although might be mean, hysterical, sarcastic but they are funny,

Banksy: Most artists take years to develop their style, Thierry seemed to miss out on all those bits.
Banksy: There’s no one like Thierry, even though his art looks like everyone else’s.
Banksy: Yeah, I was faced with that terrible thing, when somebody shows you their work and everything about it is shit… so… you don’t really know where to start (when Thierry showed his documentary )
Steve: I think the joke is on… I don’t know who the joke’s on – really. I don’t even know if there is a joke.

A guy named “Thierry Guetta” aka Mr. Brainwash seemed to dominate the movie for most times, gaining widely from his associations with established players such as Andre, Banksy, Space InvaderShepard Fairey etc. So, why was this film interesting, was it because a man who stalked street artists and captured their every move on camera failed as a director and  ended up being an artist himself, I guess NO, as a matter of fact I hated him because as Fairey said ‘his transition was pacy and immature’, and I agree. Also, what was up with the talks, $25000, $13000, it seemed as if the passion was to imitate greatness of Banksy’s show and gaining money of the process, and not for the art itself.  OK, if you people say so, I might cut him some slack since he was creative, no intelligent but filled with emotions, managed to get himself a name endorsed by his geared passion in street art, and of-course, I would have to salute him for he established contacts with all foremost artists, from whom he even received help, but yes they ended up looking jealous for the success a “not too admirable art” collection received at the hands of Mr. Brainwash at solo artshow “Life Is Beautiful”.


Mr. Brainwash


Space Invader Mosaic

So what is it about Graffiti or street art that casts it as “21st century revolution”, or a pain in ass for the Governments and business groups around the world who have called upon it as art-terrorism. Spray paint, marker pens and walls are tools and the art a result, means to a message. As we think about it deeply, we tend to see two sets of artists operating, both spiking the flavor of Street Art but sharing different context and ideologies. The artists like Banksy have remained in background, pulled pranks such as placing their own work in museums, reforging traditional paintings with modern aura, which has reflected onto their humor and creativity. The fact that Banksy himself admits that street art has a short life span, as its on a wall is a substantial proof that message is an important part, the artist uses wall to create an illusion to attract viewers to reveal the message, whether its Obama’s hope poster or the  mosaic art distribution. On the contrary, there are artists such as Mr. Brainwash who imitate such art forms, trying to gain recognition, the secrecy is an adventure, they dare explore. However, they might become better is a possibility, but is it worth risking the empty walls. or degrading the standards set by the likes of Banksy, is a question worth answering. The fact that Guetta was able to picture many street artists was because he was documenting (atleast that’s what he said), which to icons like Banksy, Fairey seemed like keeping permanency of arts in form of film, an opportunity worth a take, who knows what would have become of Guetta if he had revealed the truth long before. The difference between Guetta and Banksy was that as soon as Guetta turned artist, he felt as if there were expectations, to impress others, to earn name, get recognized, there were pranks but mostly it was about moving up and making money, it was not revolution, since message was missing, it may be art but carried no meaning. As for Banksy, he revolutionized the UK graffiti movement with his satires and political imagery, also the use of stencils, he lives in shadows since that paves off execution of plans and it somehow gravitates. He is still unknown and still is accused of vandalism in London, that speaks of change and hence a revolution.


Banksy graffiti in Bethlehem


Banksy – Hope

The opposition to street art is mainly from Governments, however, many arts are acceptable and some concessions have been made to artists. For instance, authorities in Taiwan act only on complaints from people on vandalism, but strong resistance is evident in Europe such as Britain’s anti-graffiti legislation. Other places such as Australia have provided for walls exclusively for graffiti art to encourage art and reduce vandalism. However, it is difficult to understand the perception of graffiti art on people or locals. People often like it because they praise the art, some like the message it reveals, some are fan of artist, some love the way artists are impossible to predict, their randomness, detail, dedication. It’s a mixed bag of adjectives that surmount graffiti art, but there are other questions as well. Would you like to get it on your house, what’s your reaction if some immature art inspired fella paints your wall, would you encourage it, is everyone’s work revolution, does it have signs of vandalism, should there be a dedicated place for this form of art such as “graffiti street”, or should it be anywhere, artists allowed to express freely not constrained by costs of promotion. I don’t think I am capable of answering, I do like the art and I am a big fan of Banksy, his art is inspirational, also I don’t mind the use of public property, but I don’t like the idea of streets full of it, streets are no gallery, I don’t like newbies practicing on walls (not that I can judge but some are apparent). So, I guess I am confused!


‘Approved’ graffiti at Stroud, Gloucestershire, England

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