It seems as though the art buzz this summer in Toronto has peaked with the “Art of Banksy” exhibit. Stationed in Toronto until September 19, it has become increasingly difficult to go anywhere in the city without stumbling across an advertisement for the art created by the anonymous British street artist “Banksy”. If it is not posters, social media, commercials or flags bringing attention to the art show, then it is the mystery behind who stole a work of art from the exhibit earlier this summer (perhaps Banksy himself? We can only hope).
The “Art of Banksy” exhibit is located in Toronto’s West End, and boasts being the “world’s largest collection of Banksy art” featuring over 80 of his works (which collectively are worth around $35 million). Banksy is not at all involved in the curation of the exhibit. In fact, it is curated by Steve Lazarides, Banksy’s former manager, which in itself, should be something that is alarming to the public.
Banksy rose to fame in the art world for not being afraid to highlight important issues. During the Syrian refugee crisis, Banksy took it upon himself to depict Steve Jobs (who is little known to be of Syrian descent) as a Syrian refugee on the wall of a refugee camp. If not that, other works include putting stuffed animals on a truck in New York City’s meatpacking district or building his own hotel in Bethlehem.
Banksy’s art is designed to be entirely accessible to the public, as if it is part of an urban lifestyle, as most street art is. It is most certainly not in any way what one would call “traditional art” that is hung in galleries or museums and paid for by collectors. Yet, the “Art of Banksy” exhibit, marketed by Starvox Entertainment, is exactly that and more. Sponsors of the project include Canadian telecom giant Bell Media, as well as real estate developer Castlepoint Numa and tickets cost an average of $35 a piece.
The exhibit is everything that Banksy is not, yet it is his name that is being projected throughout Toronto, throughout the duration of the event. Perhaps the greatest irony of it all is that there are actually a handful Banksy originals in the city of Toronto that any local could see any day of the week, free of charge, and better yet, in a way that the artist intended for his work to be seen.
If anything, the “Art of Banksy” exhibit becomes a conversation starter for the realities of an art world that is driven through capitalism and consumerism. Viewing art is also about honouring the values of an artist, respecting their vision and their philosophy that drives them to create their art.
Photo via Pixabay