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The artist known as Banksy is a provocateur who uses art to make telling political points. His commentary is entirely his own. His prints and paintings critique authority and take the air from serious art by stealth. Banksy looks at walls and locations as drawings and underpaintings. These sites and surfaces are the support 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 the artists drift, are provoked by sudden change?

Despite what they say graffiti is not the lowest form of art. Although you might have to creep about at night and lie to your mum its actually one of the more honest forms available. There is no elitism or hype, it exhibits on the best walls a town has to offer and nobody is put off by the price of admission. A wall has always been the best place to publish your work.1

Within the social contract, it remains for many, one step forward and two steps backward. Here lies freedom or not, because for every gesture there is a counter, a resonance, that Banksys images find. The prints of this sale, Donuts (Chocolate) 2009 and Very Little Helps 2008 speak of this predicament. They echo endeavour, authority, and the hope of many. This is the human lot, but under Banksy, the images hit hard and home, exposing the contradictions of post-capitalism.

Banksys art has achieved extraordinary prices and publicity. Most notably, the painting Girl With A Balloon 2006 which made 1.04 million. The painting shredded the moment it hammered at Sothebys London in October 2018. As the final lot of the evening, the audience watched in disbelief as the picture was removed from the auction room. It was speculated that the artist himself pressed the button that destroyed the canvas. His ascent continued. In March 2021, Banksys painting Game Changer 2020, brought 16.7 million at auction, the highest price paid for a Banksy painting. Banksy donated the hammer price of the painting to organisations in support of the National Health Service. The auction record for a Banksy print is 1,104,000 for Girl With Balloon Colour AP (Gold) 2004 which sold in March 2021. It is an exceptional print, so too the price. The image is definitive and idealistic - it is love in tough times.

To take further cognisance, the present lot, Very Little Helps, is seen in a painted version on Essex Road in North London. Banksys stencil incorporates the cables and power box on which a child raises the Tesco flag. Lest they forget, the attendant figures stand hand to heart in salute. The image is salient in print form. The figures are strongly graphic with characteristic aerosol edges and the sky blue is
aptly bright.

Donuts (Chocolate) is baroque in detail and buoyant in form. A note of hilarity sounds as the motorcycle convoy guards the safe passage of the donut truck through the streets. Humour is read into much of Banksys output. Pathos comes readily and with conviction. It also turns simply on the point that, what is serious, is also material for comedy.

My sister threw away loads of my drawings when I was a kid and when I asked her where they were she shrugged and said Well its not like theyre ever gonna be hanging in the Louvre is it?2
Banksy is on the money as a moralist and a satirist, because in what is a leavening of our predicament, we find ourselves. There is no better recommendation to make for the artist Banksy than the prints of this sale.

1. Banksy, Banksy: Wall and Piece, Century, London, 2006, p.8
2. Ibid., p.172

Brett Ballard, MA

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