Menzies Art Brands



The artist Banksy is a provocateur who uses art to make political points. His prints and paintings critique authority and take air from serious issues by stealth. Banksy uses walls as the site for new meaning and inversions. Why practise art in a studio when life is more real at street level, and the sweeter for it; where those unfamiliar with Banksys art are provoked by sudden change?

Within the social contract, it remains for many, one step forward and two steps back. Here lies freedom or not, because for every gesture there is a counter, a resonance, that Banksys images find. The print Christ with Shopping Bags 2004 speaks of this very predicament. We are led and we gladly follow; our consumption marked by a desire that outstrips our need. This human lot is material for Banksy, and he works into it, exposing the cracks and contradictions that contemporary life evokes.

Banksys rise from street activism and wall stenciling has been meteoric, as have his prices. His paintings now fetch upward of 16,000,000 and the record for a Banksy screenprint is 1,104,000 for Girl with Balloon Colour AP (Gold) 2004 which sold at auction in March 2021. It is an exceptional print and one driven by the eponymous painting Girl with Balloon 2006 which famously shredded the moment it sold in October 2018.

Christ with Shopping Bags 2004 is both definitive and rare. It is in a small edition of 82, and desirable, because it plays at the heart of our presumed wants and needs. Our Christ is without the support of his cross and each hand holds bags of Christmas shopping, wrapped in pink ribbon, that overflow with candy-canes, champagne, and Mickey Mouse.

A substance drips from Christs figure and his bags. It is the blood of Christ, a sacrament, that the pursuit of goods makes a mockery of. The measure of any consumer is choice, but one marked by price. Banksy is on the money here, morally, and satirically, because in what is a leavening of despair laughing in the face of capitalism we find ourselves strung out and strung up, nailed to our desire for the perfect item. There is no better recommendation to make for the art of Banksy than this image. Typically stringent, and topically aware, Christ with Shopping Bags has us, the consumer, in its critical hold.

Brett Ballard

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