10 January 2014, 09:13

Russian guide to 2014: Banksy Exhibition

Russian guide to 2014: Banksy Exhibition
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You can never see his face but you can see the largest exhibition of his legendary graffiti. Works by famed British street artist Banksy, who’s been hiding from public for more than a decade, are to go on display in Moscow. The Manezh exhibition centre will host the show. More than 130 paintings, sculptures, graffiti, collages and videos of the most famous modern incognito artist – is something that has never been done before says Vitaly Borisov, founder of the Russian street-art group Letscolors.

“I think it will be one of the largest cultural events in Russia and I’m sure that plenty of people not only from Moscow, but from other cities and countries will come to see this exhibition. The phenomenon of Banksy’ popularity, in my opinion, lies in the simplicity and openness of his works. There is always a mix of informative, social and art message in his graffiti, but without the complex implication that often scares the public away. Banksy’s works are comprehensible to everyone, which is quite rare in modern art,”Vitaly Borisov said.

A cult British graffitist, Banksy has gone a long way from being an outlaw to a world renowned artist. His works are now valued at thousands of dollars and are kept in private collections of such stars of contemporary art like Damien Hirst. There is not much we know about the man behind the pseudonym. According to graphic designer Tristan Manco, Banksy was born in 1974 and raised in Bristol, England. The son of a photocopier technician, he trained as a butcher, but became involved in graffiti during the great Bristol aerosol boom of the late 1980s. Banksy’s satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stencilling technique. Stencils are traditionally hand drawn or printed onto sheets of acetate or card, before being cut out by hand. Because of the secretive nature of Banksy's work and identity, it is uncertain what techniques he uses to generate the images in his stencils, though it is assumed he uses computers for some images due to the photocopy nature of much of his work. Keeping his personal life in secrecy Banksy uses every opportunity to talk about his work. In his book “Wall and Piece” he said the following.

“I use whatever it takes. Sometimes that just means drawing a moustache on a girl's face on some billboard, sometimes that means sweating for days over an intricate drawing. Efficiency is the key,”Banksy said.

Known for his contempt for the government in labelling graffiti as vandalism, Banksy displays his art on publicly visible surfaces such as walls, even going as far as to build physical prop pieces. Banksy does not sell photographs or reproductions of his street graffiti, however, art auctioneers have been known to attempt to sell his street art on location and leave the problem of its removal in the hands of the winning bidder. So in case you are a Banksy fan but have no place to keep pieces of broken walls, visiting an exhibition in Manezh is just the perfect solution for you.

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