Reviews by John for: Banksy: Locations & Tours vol. 1 and 2 ~ by Martin Bull
A guide to the mysterious appearances (and less mysterious disappearances) of street art and graffiti by the renowned “guerilla art icon” Banksy.
About: Banksy is a street artist who has become increasingly famous. Some of his works have now become iconic, though he personally remains determinedly anonymous despite the international recognition of his artwork. His art and graffiti appear overnight and very few know who he is or what he looks like. Most of his work has appeared in London.
These two books are essentially guides to Banksy’s work, including photos and detailed descriptions of where they can be found. The books are organized by location, so determined readers can use them as tour guides to take in Banksy’s work. Sadly, however, as this is street art, much of the original work has disappeared so the photos are all that is left behind. Bull is clear about what was still visible at the time the book was put together, but unfortunately things change on a regular basis. Most local councils or landlords are not friends of street art, however skillful it may be.
Bull describes himself as “just a big geeky fan of Banksy’s work” and he basically catalogs all the work he can find, adding some tidbits, chit-chat and commentary on the condition of the work. He is disdainful about “pseudo-intellectual ramblings” on graffiti, street art, and what it all means; he just likes the work and wants to share. He is even more vocal about those who have attempted to remove and sell the artwork.
John’s thoughts: These are not really reading books; they are essentially a guide to art and graffiti by Banksy – simple as that. If you like his work, you’ll like the books; if you don’t like his work, the books aren’t for you. Me? I think he’s great. The subject matter ranges from fun doodles to biting social commentary, but whatever the topic he has a lot of talent, a great imagination and tons of chutzpah. And you have to respect someone who has decided to stay anonymous and “underground” despite the opportunity to go public and to make lots of money. Street art indeed.
Even if you are unaware of Banksy, there is a fair chance that you’ll recognize some of his work. Some of his more well-known pieces include “sweeping it under the carpet”, “cave painting”, “snorting copper”, “parachute rat”, “no ball games”, “London (call centre) calling” and “petrol vulture”. He is an excellent artist. Period. His graffiti is also clever and often wryly humorous.
The final word goes to Banksy himself. “I try and deal with lots of different ideas but I guess the underlying message is always the same – You say the city belongs to you and your laws? Well then, how come it’s got MY name written all over it?”
The art gets 4 stars, so the two Locations and Tours books get the same 4-star rating. If you like fun and clever art that has an edge to it, you’ll like these books.
These two books will be include in Graphics Novel Challenge 2011.
As always John will be addressing comments. Thanks for reading.