A Banksy retrospective, featuring more than 80 of his best-known works, and exhibited in a gallery space. Does it sound like something that the British artist – an anti-establishment icon – would ever approve?
No, it doesn't – and it's not. The Art of Banksy – which opens on September 13 at the Entertainment Quarter – is an entirely unauthorised exhibition, curated by the famously anonymous artist’s former manager, Steve Lazarides. The pair, who are both from Bristol, go back many years to the days when they worked together at the now-defunct Sleazenation magazine. These days, Lazarides is recognised as a key figure in bringing street art into galleries.
But while the exhibition (proudly) eschews the Banksy tick of approval, the retrospective will be filled with nothing but authentic Banksy pieces, from 1997 through 2008. Sydney will be able to see the instantly recognisable 'Flower Thrower', 'Rude Copper' and 'Girl with Balloon', a version of which was at the centre of one of Banksy's most famous pranks: it sold for $1.4 million at auction last year moments before it went through a shredder.
The Art of Banksy has toured to Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Auckland, Toronto and Miami. When it was in Melbourne in late 2016, it proved particularly controversial and divided the street art community. Melbourne artist Matt 'Adnate' famously painted a version of Caravaggio’s 'The Taking of Christ' directly onto the entrance of the exhibition at Federation Square, with Lazarides as Judas. No prizes for guessing what he was getting at.
The Sydney exhibition runs from September 13 at the Entertainment Quarter, with tickets going on sale on August 2. And while street art is usually free, this exhibition will set you back a fairly steep $40. You can join a ticketing waitlist at theartofbanksyau.com.au.