XPO Magazine: September 2016: Banksy

Street ArtWith spray paint, stencils and use of walls in public space, Banksy is definitely not the average artist inthe art world. For one, his works can be found on random blind walls of street alleys, parkinglots, or the walls of subway corridors where most people usually expect to find defaced surfaces clad with drawings and illegible texts, also known as tags, that have a meaning for only a select few. The tag is perhaps themost important expression in graffiti and is in fact no more or less than the signature of the maker.In this jungle of tags Steven Lazarides and curator Chris Ford of Lazarides Gallery in London who first took notice of Banksy backin the early 2000s. According to Ford, "Banksy's message transcends all social boundaries. His work touches the core of human emotions. There is no language or cultural barrier for the viewer, no university degree in art history required or complicated theory to understand his work. Bam, it grabs you just like that!".Bristol a cultural pressure cookerBanksy has been active as an artist in the 1990s but made his big breakthrough in the period 2000-2007 when Steven Lazaridesbecame his agent. The two knew each other from Bristol in the 1990s when Banksy was influenced by Robert Del Naja, theleader singer of the triphop band Massive Attack. The band was part of the musical movement 'Bristol Sound' and produceddance classic like 'Unfinished Sympathy' and 'Teardrops'. Del Naja first started as a graffiti artist before he became a vocalist.Most of the sleeves of Massive Attack's LP's were designed by Del Naja. Recently, there have been rumors that Del Naja andBanksy are the same person. Massive Attack had concert dates in the same locations that coincided with exhibitions of Banksy,"But that is probably just a coincidence", Ford laughs. "Bristol in the 1980s and 1990s was a pressure cooker of creativity wheresubcultures influenced each other. There was also a darkness to it, with a touch of humor". Even today Bristol remains one ofthe most progressive cities in the UK.  

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