I love Banksy. I would go as far as to say he’s my favorite artist. I could go on for pages and pages about how much I love his ideals and his work, but that isn’t what I’m here for at the moment because — and I know this will be an unpopular opinion — Banksy is being an asshole.
As with any street artist, it is part of Banksy’s M.O. to create his pieces in locations that might be a bit questionable on the legal front (assuming he doesn’t have permission from the owners). This has seemed to work out in the past, but the artist’s latest target just took things too far.
The piece appeared on the side of a garage in Taibach, Port Talbot last month, and ever since, there has been a throng of people huddled around the site. While this is typical for a Banksy piece (and I don’t blame the people coming out to see something so spectacular), it isn’t so typical for the owner of the garage, Ian Lewis. The stress and responsibility of taking care of the artwork and managing the crowds has taken a toll.
It is totally unfair for Banksy to plop the responsibility of managing the outcome of his art on a single man who did not ask for it. It is one thing if he agreed to let Banksy create the work, but that does not seem to be the case based on his stress over the viral response to its appearance. This individual, like all of us, has a life and work, but Banksy came in and interrupted it all. While I realize that life is not always fair, an artist who focuses on human rights issues should know better than to give a man another burden to shoulder. After all, stress takes a toll that can last the rest of a life — or shorten a life.
Banksy’s other works have brought joy to people of all backgrounds. Dismaland, for example, allowed all types of people to experience art firsthand in a way that didn’t harm anyone. His latest works, though, tend to be shrouded in more controversy. The “Girl with Balloon” debacle is also a recent debate in the art community. When Banksy shredded the piece after the final bid in an auction, there were mixed reactions. Some critics believed he was destroying another person’s property, while others thought it was within his rights as an artist to complete his work however and whenever he thought it fit.
No matter what side of the Banksy issue you’re on, it’s undeniable that the artist has made a splash in the past few years. I hope he will make good decisions about displaying his art in a way that benefits everyone in 2019.