While graffiti is popular and often associated with vandalism and a form of rebellion, it actually dates back to the ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian times. One of the most well-known graffiti artists is Banksy. The Lazinc Art Gallery in Mayfair, London displays various Banksy artworks. Known for his graffiti style, his work imparts a satirical social message in every piece. Some of his most famous works displayed include Balloon Girl, Guantanamo Bay Detainee, Kissing Coppers, Winston Churchill Mohawk, and a few others like Napalm Girl, I Want Change, and Drunk Angel.
Some of the most intriguing ones include the Jesus Christ with Shopping Bags piece. This particular one showcases God in the context of human indulgence and consumption which only seems to be increasing with time. It sheds light on the growing obsession of people with material things that weigh them down, implying that we are crucified by our own indulgences and desires for material consumption and satisfaction. It is suggesting for us to take a step back and realize the impact of our daily mindless consumptions and ponder over why we have the desire to own, spend, possess, and indulge excessively to such a great extent.
Another artwork that stands out is the Flower Thrower instead of a typical bomb thrower. While this piece might seem simple at first, it represents a kind of duality. The flowers represent the love and peace we should be showering on the world instead of bombs, but it could also be referring to the commemorative ways of the human race which seems to quickly forget the bombs that were thrown and replaces them with flowers to show their remorse. While this is a way of showing respect to those who have perished in hateful acts, this artwork also acts as a reminder for the viewer who finds the flowers out of place in the man’s hand and makes them wonder why this person isn’t actually throwing flowers in reality rather than bombs.
Another extremely interesting artwork is the War Elephant Carrying Missile, where an elephant is seen carrying a missile that covers his entire back. This one is particularly stimulating as it alludes to how elephants were used to carry weaponry and various materials, as well as for several other tasks by colonizers and countries in power within the countries they had colonized. Elephants are still used for various tasks and for mere entertainment for tourists, and it is remarkable that the gist of this piece by Banksy is still relevant, important, talked about, and understood even today.
It becomes imperative to examine these artworks with such essential social messages. Graffiti art like Banksy’s is not only attention grabbing, but also increasingly relevant in this fast-paced and ever-changing world that seems to be embroiled in a rat race; but as Banksy puts it– while one might be running in this rat race, they’re eventually still just a rat.