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Banksys subversive screenprints and street art point to the hypocrisy of contemporary capitalist society. He extends this anti-establishment allure by keeping his real name and identity secret, shielding himself from the limelight while allowing his works to shine.

Have a Nice Day is a quintessential Banksy print and the first ever produced by Pictures on Walls in London.1 Most of Banksys early prints from 2002 - 2003 measure 50.0 x 70.0 cm, making Have a Nice Day rarer in its longer and slimmer format. It employs two of the artists most popular motifs: the military brigade and the yellow smiley face. The print showcases Banksys characteristic commentary of cynicism, and sarcasm, with the cheerful title, and bright faces, contrasted by the black tank and hostile row of armed police. Though printed in 2003, Have a Nice Day addresses a topic that is increasingly pertinent, as we see frequent protests against police brutality across the world.

The familiar smiley face is a childlike ideogram of contentment that is ripe for subversion.2 Having been associated with the ideals of the 1960s and 70s, and then with psychedelic culture and acid house music in the 1980s and 90s, the smiley face is one of the most recognised icons of popular culture. Here we see it repeated where soldiers faces would be, acting as a mask to anonymise and homogenise figures, furthering the effect of identical riot gear and diagonal gun barrels. Each soldier is a duplicate of the other, forming a terrifying force marching towards the viewer, their anonymity, only adding to their power. In this context the smiley face takes on a sinister quality; vacantly smiling while threatening harm, suggesting an unhinged psychological state where violence and happiness are one. This is consistent with Banksys Flying Copper 2004 and Grin Reaper 2005 where smiley faces are fearsome and a means of control.


1. Have a Nice Day, Pictures on Walls, London (accessed September 2022):
2. Have a Nice Day, Hexagon Gallery, California (accessed September 2022):

Asta Cameron

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