Banksy has become arguably the most famous artist of his generation, having risen from humble beginnings as an outsider within the subculture of graffiti art.
Alongside other visionaries such as Ron English, Robert Del Naja and Mode 2, to name a few, he is credited with graffiti's transition from the aerosol abstracts and "bubble writing" favoured in the 1980s to the narrative-driven street art of today.
Almost unique to Banksy's street art are the shrewd use of context, the written word, chutzpah and humour that define graffiti in a historical sense. He is also distinct in his democratic vision, for example, favouring the populist mass media as a means of communication rather than the jungle drums of his own niche demographic. The artist also pioneered the use of alternative venues for the display of street art with his 2003 warehouse exhibition Turf War.
Lazinc founder Steve Lazarides worked with Banksy whilst he was employed as the photographic director of the magazine Sleaze Nation. Steve exhibited the street artist's work for a number of years and generated an unprecedented interest in Banksy and street art movement, that others have since capitalized on. Steve became Banksy's de facto agent, a working relationship that ended in early 2009. Banksy's own organization Pest Control is now the sole representative of the artist. Steve has since curated museum calibre public exhibitions of Banksy's work both in the UK and abroad including the most recent exhibition at his own gallery in Mayfair, Banksy, Greatest Hits: 2002 – 2008.
Outside of the exhibitions and warehouse shows, Banksy's ‘uncommissioned’ street art works are perhaps his most fondly remembered.
In 2003 he hung the embellished oil painting, Crimewatch UK has Ruined the Countryside for all of Us, a pastoral scene bastardised to include an incident scene sealed off with police tape, in Tate Britain. An official statement explained, "The amount of paranoia and fear about violent crime and paedophilia makes mine a more accurate drawing of the English landscape we actually live in". It should be noted that the artist was hardly the household name he is now – reporting the incident, The Guardian newspaper described him as "famous for ... the cover of the latest Blur album". The painting was the first example of a number of doctored countryside works displayed in the exhibition Crude Oils; these are now among his most sought-after works.
After the death of Lady Diana Spencer, Banksy produced a large number of Di-Faced Tenners, counterfeit £10 notes featuring the late Princess of Wales's image where the ruling monarchs would normally be. Many were simply given away, including at the Reading music festival.
In 2005 the artist painted various images on Israel's West Bank Wall, which he described as "the ultimate holiday destination for graffiti artists". Fast forward to 2017 and the artist has even opened a hotel, with a graffiti shop, by the same segregation wall he painted on in 2005, naming it ‘The Walled Off Hotel’.
2006 saw a dummy dressed as a Guantanamo Bay prisoner installed alongside Disneyland's Rocky Mountain Ride. Then, in a 2008 reaction to Britain's growing ranks of closed circuit television cameras, Banksy painted the slogan "One Nation Under CCTV" in lettering several storeys high on a building in perhaps London's busiest district, next to a very prominent surveillance camera.
Many of these star turns are immortalised in Banksy's 2010 film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, which was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary.
Steve Lazarides has gone on record to condemn the removal of outdoor Banksy murals for sale on the gallery circuit.
Born in Bristol 1974
Lives and works in London
Selected Solo Exhibitions
2009 Please Love Me, Flowers Cellar Gallery, London
2009 Bristol City Museum, Bristol, UK
2006 Barely Legal, Los Angeles pop-up, USA
2005 Crude Oils, Notting Hill pop-up, London
2003 Turf War, Dalston pop-up, London
2002 Existencilism, 33 1/3 Gallery, Los Angeles
Selected Group Exhibitions
2016 Still Here, A Decade of Lazarides, Lazarides Rathbone, London
2015 Contemporary Istanbul, Lazarides, Istanbul
2015 Dismaland, Dismaland, Weston-super-Mare
2014 Art14 London, Lazarides, London
2013 Art13 London, Lazarides, London
2012 Lazarides Presents.., Lazarides Rathbone, London
2011 Art in the Streets, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
2011 Banksy/War Boutique, Andipa Gallery, London
2008 Cans Festival, Waterloo Station, London
Significant Site-Specific Work
Museum of Modern Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
American Museum of National History
Israeli West Bank Barrier
Olympic Village, Stratford
National Theatre, London
'Banky's Bridge', Shoreditch, London
Walker Art Gallery
British Museum London