Banksy: Art that Speaks

Quite often graffiti artists are identified as vandals who defile public and private property and it is apparent that graffiti is deemed a controversial art form that continues to create conflict between law officials and the artists who want to exhibit their work in public locations.

Though I do agree that certain forms of graffiti, such as tagging, are a blot on the landscape I am a great admirer of street art that conveys the thoughts and feelings of the artist who created it.

One cannot, nowadays, mention the term ‘street art’ without mentioning ‘Banksy’. He is, and forever will be, one of my favourite street artists whose work is inspirational and thought-provoking, yet somewhat controversial.

In 2005, Banksy visited Israel’s West Bank barrier. Reaching nearly eight metres in height the barrier is deemed necessary for security by the Israelis against Palestinian terrorism, however for Palestinians it is known as the “separation” or “segregation” wall.  For Palestinians the wall has become a blank canvas on which they write messages and construct images reflecting their day-to-day struggles and feelings of imprisonment (Leuenberger, 2011).

Though the paintings on the wall created by Banksy are not explicitly political in nature, his opinion surrounding the barriers existence is made apparent in the following statement:

“The Israeli government is building a wall surrounding the occupied Palestinian territories. It stands three times the height of the Berlin Wall and will eventually run for over 700km – the distance from London to Zurich. The wall is illegal under international law and essentially turns Palestine into the world’s largest open prison.” – Banksy  (Jones, 2005)

The painting of the young girl looking upwards, floating, suspended above the ground only by balloons is, in my opinion, one of Banksy’s most beautiful creations.

Banksy in Palestine

The street artist is known for being quite reserved and rarely comments on the meaning behind his work; this leaves a lot of his paintings open to interpretation and it seems the mystery surrounding each creation only adds to the allure.

‘The Girl with the Balloons’, as it is situated on the Palestinian side of the West Bank wall, could represent hope; hope that one day the Palestinians will be able to overcome the segregation imposed by the barrier that stands in their way. Also, it is clear that the girl is a child perhaps signifying that it will be the children who will overcome these obstacles in the future, where they will finally be able to escape the prison to which they are now confined.

Whatever the true meaning behind Banksy’s painting, it is clear that the message is a positive one and I for one cannot wait for his next masterpiece.