Using stencil provocative art and profound imagery, this artist has managed to amass an entire art subculture devoted to his works. His art can definitely impact any location at any given moment and arguably makes him one of the most controversial artists in the world. He goes by the name Banksy, yet his real identity remains a mystery even after 20 years of being involved with the graffiti scene.
In fact, very little is known about Banksy himself, since he doesn’t want to give interviews and carefully hides his identity. Supposedly, he was born in Bristol in 1975, where he began spray-painting walls and trains in the early 1990s.
But, why does he use precisely graffiti as a means to communicate?
By producing pieces of art which pop up in crowded cities across the world, Banksy displays social and political issues in our face. His stencils force us to stop and think about today’s society. And that’s definitely something we should be doing more in our everyday lives.
Here are 10 of his most thought-provoking works of art.
Peace Is The Answer
This San Francisco art encourages us to examine ourselves, especially how we solve problems. We shouldn’t resort to violence and immature behaviors, but strive to be reasonable and fair. It pushes us to question the society we live in today, along with our government and the decisions made by our leaders.
Live In The Moment
This piece entitled “Mobile Lovers” was done in Bristol and clearly depicts out society’s obsession with modern technology. However, nothing that exists on a mobile, laptop screen etc. is more important than what’s happening right in front of us. If we’re constantly preoccupied with this, we might miss out on a lot of meaningful connections with others. Don’t let life pass you by, live life fully while you’re here.
Love Is Not Lust
This gloomy scene, painted outside of a New York strip club perfectly portrays the ugly truth about society’s sex craze: it’s never fulfilling, at least not for this man. The artist posted the phrase, “waiting in vain” with a picture of the stencil on his website, implying he won’t find genuine love here.
No Interest In People
This Banksy piece first appeared on the side of a clothing shop in Toronto around 2010. It paints a salesman and doubtlessly takes a dig at our capitalist society where respect for people can often be considered as less important than commodities. Sadly, this graffiti lasted only a couple of days before the store staff painted it over.
Childhood Innocence Lost Too Soon
This piece was placed on the side of an Urban Outfitters near the UCLA campus in LA. It was created as a commentary against child soldiers. As it can be seen, the character is a young boy of Asian descent, firing off crayons from a gun roughly the same size as him. It appears Banksy was insinuating the loss of childhood in a world filled with war.
Set Moral Boundaries
The image of a sinister-looking Charles Manson stands outside of London’s Archway Tube Station. This piece is most probably a reference to the pervasive influence of evil in society. It warns us that evil could be lurking anywhere. Therefore, we should be more careful with what kind of influences we subject ourselves to in our day-to-day lives.
The New York art illustrates self-expression with a graffiti artist vomiting flowers. The caption accompanied with this piece is “better out than in”, which means if you want to express something, it would be best to let it out rather than holding it in yourself. If you had to vomit, you certainly wouldn’t hold it in. Unfortunately, most of us nowadays feel we should hold in our emotional needs as well as the need to express and create. So, whether it’s something physical or emotional, always remember that some things need to be let out.
Don’t Let Others Stop You
This Boston piece takes another swing at disappointed idealism. With many people feeling forced to give up their dreams or never pursue them due to financial burdens or other hardships, this is a stark reminder for those of us who’ve been asleep. We should focus on following our dreams, regardless of society’s pressure.
Listen To Your Heart
Even though harsh realities and crude satire are mostly Banksy’s style, he sometimes produces a work with a glimmer of hope. This doctor is definitely an inspiring reminder to live up to the request of listening to your heart.
There Is Always Hope
This is probably one of the most famous pieces of Banksy. The message is clearly engraved on the wall in London. Even though at first glance the image may symbolize loss and sadness, the text evidently tells us that no amount of loss can ever eradicate hope. It’s an optimistic reminder that we should remain positive instead of wallowing in grief and despair.