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The Intersection of Art and Politics

22 June 2018 by Madeleine Stoddart

Art and politics have always been inextricably linked, but oftentimes artistic exploration becomes constrained by other interests. Many artists feel pressure to dial down their ideas to be sold in galleries or displayed in museums – and they end up participating within a ‘safe zone’ of rebellion. Street artists however aren’t afraid to step outside the 'white cube' environment...

 

When street art began to grow artists were willing to risk their freedom to install a work - the threat of arrest was extremely high. These risks ended up paying off, as the political impact was huge – installing works across the urban environment enlarges the artwork’s audience and makes it less easy to turn away from difficult images. By transforming public spaces street artists literally changed the fabric of our environment.

 

Today, we want to take a look at three artists, and how their artworks have examined the ties between art and politics...

 

1) Banksy – the most important political artist of his generation.

 

Banksy has a habit of seizing the moment perfectly, calling his global audience to attention. His most recent intervention, Vote to Love, plays on the politics of the artworld and the branding of his identity.

 

Vote to Love was inspired by the ubiquitous Vote Leave posters used during the EU Referendum of June 2016 – an image that now results in a pervasive sting amongst some UK citizens. Banksy altered the Vote Leave poster by pasting a heart balloon image over the placard, altering the message to ‘Vote to Love’.

 

Banksy has also made intercessions following extreme disasters, using humour and whimsy as mechanisms of criticism. After Hurricane Gustav rocked the city of New Orleans in 2008, many worried that the government’s response would be lacking, similar to when Katrina hit in 2005. Banksy headed to New Orleans with his spray cans and soon fourteen images popped up across the city to criticise governmental action. It was during this mission that he created another one of his iconic girls; Rain Girl. Standing under an umbrella that fails to protect her from the overwhelming streams of rain, a girl awaits assistance with a woeful expression cast on her face. Similar to the image of Balloon Girl, Banksy often recalls childhood innocence to evoke a sense of empathy and reunite us in our humanity.

 

 

2) Jonathan Yeo – the internationally acclaimed portraitist.

 

While Jonathan Yeo’s work did not originate in the streets, his beginnings as an artist originated outside the regulatory constraints of the artworld. After being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in his early twenties, Yeo trained himself to paint and achieved a level of technique akin to academic masters. In fact, Yeo was commissioned from US presidential incumbent George W. Bush to paint his official portrait. When this commission was unceremoniously cancelled, Yeo produced a portrait of the politician using an assemblage of pornographic magazine clippings and displayed it in the Lazinc (formerly Lazarides) Soho gallery.

 

 

 

The juxtaposition of hardcore sexuality against a staunchly Republican figure spurred an exploration into the hypocrisy of the moral superiority of right-wing America. Among his subjects were morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse, populist Sarah Palin and former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Yeo also chose to explore icons like Paris Hilton and Hugh Hefner that represent the very salacious, superficial and yet utterly addicting tenets of the Western imaginary, like celebrity and porn. These works came to form what is known as his Blue Period.

 

3) Robert Del Naja, also known as 3D and one of the founders of Massive Attack.

 

Robert Del Naja is considered to be one of the forerunners of Bristol’s graffiti scene. He parlayed his street art into traditional fine art pieces, expanding the definition of the genre. No longer limited to the walls of the city, street art became more about an attitude than a medium.

 

International Jihad is an abstract work that teases out the assumptions many make when prompted with certain visual cues. From the start Del Naja has framed our perception by giving the painting a provocative title. At first glance it appears as though two figures are reading a Christian text, while the EU flag symbol hovers above. Though the title references Muslim extremism, can we safely assume these figures are wearing turbans, or are they something else, like papal mitres? The image of the turban is now riddled with many associations, whether they be religious, or related to questions of terrorism and freedom. By contrast, the EU and Christianity have been branded as representative of the moral high ground. Through the mixture of these symbols, Del Naja creates a political Rorschach test of sorts, asking us to question why we see what we see.

 

 

Del Naja has also explored the global refugee crisis by working with photographer Giles Duley to pair photographs of refugees with music created by Del Naja’s band, Massive Attack. Similar to his work on canvas, Del Naja’s music frames the photographs in an abstract way – the tone of the music is not specifically melancholy or distressing. This encourages audiences to think critically about the images, instead of ignoring them as images we see in the news every day.

 

From highly-publicised stunts to quieter visual disruptions, street artists interrupt our expectations and motivate us to think about our world in new ways. Despite the worrying state of current affairs, we’re looking forward to seeing some great new works materialise – after all, it is said that the best art is produced during times of contention.

See also

The best London art exhibitions to see this week

Think of Banksy and his illicit, politically subversive street art epigrams spring to mind.
Lucy Scovell, Culture Whisper, 15 Jul 2018

New Art Fairs, a Banksy Blockbuster and Contemporary Copyright Claims

Gallery owner Steve Lazarides brought together a variety of works that have surfaced on the secondary market in recent years, having parted ways with Banksy as his original official gallerist and photographer in 2008, when the artist stopped making work to sell.
Charlotte Jansen, ELEPHANT, 13 Jul 2018

The Art World This Week

This week’s top headlines — including the auction record-breaking Winnie the Pooh drawing, an anti-Trump exhibition and the New York installation warning against climate change.
MutualArt, 13 Jul 2018

Des oeuvres méconnues de Banksy exposées a la galerie Lazinc a Londres

From world-famous stencils to more unexpected oils to a few sculptures: Banksy's works are on display in a London gallery from Thursday, an opportunity to discover other facets of the mysterious British artist.
Le Point Culture, 12 Jul 2018

Banksy’s lesser-known works on show in London

LONDON -- Street artist Banksy is known around the world for his simple graffiti stencils, often with a sharp political point, but a new London exhibition is an opportunity to discover his wider talents.
Pauline Froissart, Agence France-Presse , ABS CBN, 12 Jul 2018

The Weekend Cometh, So Here’s How to Spend It: 13th – 15th July

The weekend kicks off with a Friday 13th, so that’s good. Assuming we all survive that, then we’ve two whole days to recover from losing the World Cup ahead of us. Given the temperatures are rumoured to be hitting 29 degrees, that shouldn’t be too difficult. Here’s some ideas…
Phil Clarke, The Handbook, 12 Jul 2018

Look Inside Banksy’s Highly Anticipated “Greatest Hits" Exhibition

Banksy’s latest gallery show focuses on his most popular works and, suitably, is called “Greatest Hits.” The show was curated by the artist’s former dealer, Steve Lazarides.
Jason Pike, Hypebeast, 12 Jul 2018

Colby College Acquires Jackson Pollock Painting, and Getty Purchases 13th-Century Rothschild Pentateuch

Lazinc Gallery in London has sold three Banksy paintings priced between £500,000 (~$661,000) and £1.5 million (~$2 million) within 24 hours of the opening of the show Banksy: Greatest Hits: 2002–2008.
Deena ElGenaidi, Hyperallergic, 12 Jul 2018

Una galeria de Londres vende un “Banksy” por 1,6 millones de euros

La galería Lazinc de Londres ha vendido ya las primeras piezas de la exposición de 'Grandes éxitos' de Banksy, por una de las cuales se ha llegado a pagar 1,5 millones de libras (alrededor de 1,6 millones de euros) en la preventa habilitada.
La Vanguardia, 11 Jul 2018

Banksy vende una obra por 1,5 millones de libras un día antes de inaugurar una exposición en Londres

La exposición de Banksy en la galería londinense Lazinc, titulada «greatest hits» (algo así como «grandes éxitos), no abre al público hasta mañana (podrá visitarse entre el 12 de julio y el 25 de gosto), pero el artista británico ya está levantando expectación entre los compradores.
ABC Cultura, 11 Jul 2018

Morning Links

Banksy’s “greatest hits” show at London’s Lazinc gallery may not open until tomorrow, but already three paintings have sold for between £500,000 and £1.5 million.
ARTnews , 11 Jul 2018

Banksy Goes Mayfair, Pest Control Speak Out

The appearance of a new Banksy in London can create quite a media frenzy. The last works to hit the streets in the capital came at the end of Summer 2017, during the highly anticipated Basquiat retrospective exhibition.
Paul Carter Robinson , Artlyst, 11 Jul 2018

A Banksy Bonanza: The Street Artist's 'Greatest Hits' Take Centre Stage in a London Show Organized By His Former Dealer

Steve Lazarides says the rare show has already broken records—and it hasn’t even opened yet.
Naomi Rea, Artnet, 11 Jul 2018

Banksy painting sells for record £1.5m as ‘greatest hits’ show opens at London gallery

Banksy’s “greatest hits” exhibition doesn’t open to the public at London’s Lazinc gallery until tomorrow, 12 July (until 25 August), but early sales indicate records have already begun to tumble.
Anny Shaw, The Art Newspaper, 11 Jul 2018

Best of Banksy - an exhibition of his greatest hits

Some of Banksy's most famous works, including Girl and Balloon (2006) and Show Me the Monet (2005), are part of a London exhibition exclusively focused on Bristol's elusive artist.
BBC, 10 Jul 2018

Arts Market Focus

Colin Gleadell , The Daily Telegraph, 10 Jul 2018

The Londoner

Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo was at Banksy’s new show at Sackville Street’s Lazinc Gallery in Mayfair.
Evening Standard, 10 Jul 2018

Ne cherchez plus Banksy, il est a la Lazinc Gallery

This summer, from Thursday, July 12 to Saturday, August 25, Lazinc will immerse in the roots of the urban art of the gallery, with an exhibition featuring the most iconic images of the British artist Banksy.
Leila Lamnaouer, French Morning London, 10 Jul 2018

A preview of priceless Banksy art never made for the street at his new Greatest Hits show

This summer the Lazinc gallery in Mayfair is hosting Banksy Greatest Hits: 2002-2008, a new exhibition that'll be the only place in the UK to offer the public a chance to view Banksy's work in one place.
Giacomo Lee , DigitalArts, 10 Jul 2018

Should we bank on rising Banksy prices?

It's been a long time since there was a big Banksy exhibition, but this week his former dealer, Steve Lazarides, is opening one at his new gallery in Mayfair.
Colin Gleadell , The Telegraph, 10 Jul 2018

Art Picks of the Week: 9th - 15th July

The street artist’s most famous works go on show, including Girl and Balloon.
Jessie Thompson, Evening Standard, 9 Jul 2018

A Banksy holiday crowd-puller

Expect queues around the block in London’s Mayfair this week as gallerist Steve Lazarides and his Lazinc co-founder Wissam Al Mana open their “greatest hits” show of 23 works by Banksy, made between 2002 and 2008 (July 12-August 25).
Melanie Gerlis, Financial Times, 6 Jul 2018

From graffiti to gallery: how street art became respectable

A decade ago, as the street art market moved from couter-culture to mainstream, a new record was set for Banksy work - albeit for a spot painting by Damien Hirst, stencilled over by the Bristolian street artist - which sold for $1.9m at Sotheby's New York.
Anny Shaw, The Art Newspaper, 4 Jul 2018

Off the wall

This July, Banksy's work will be pubically displayed in the UK in its appropiate esteem.
James Mumford, Luxury London magazine, 4 Jul 2018

La galerie Lazinc expose Bansky et présente Greatest Hits: 2002-2008

C’est Steve Lazarides, le galeriste officiel de Banksy et le le co-fondateur de Lazinc, Wissam Al Mana qui présenteront une collection emblématique de l’artiste, né à Bristol.
Mathilde Riboulleau, Ici Londres, 3 Jul 2018

5 Exhibitions You Need To See This July

London’s art galleries and museums offer both cool and culturally stimulating refuge, while sunseekers are also able to bask in arty glory thanks to an outdoor exhibition or two.
Ailis Brennan, Evening Standard, 29 Jun 2018

The Intersection of Art and Politics

Art and politics have always been inextricably linked, but oftentimes artistic exploration becomes constrained by other interests. Many artists feel...
22 June 2018

Banksy, Greatest Hits: 2002-2008

Every major band is given a greatest hits, even though said Greatest Hits sometimes doesn't quite get it right with the diehard fans.
Juxtapoz, 21 Jun 2018

Beauty is still in the streets

May 2018 marked 50 years since mai soixante-huit – the wave of uprisings, demonstrations and revolutions that rocked Paris in 1968, when thousands of youths and millions of workers took to the streets to shut down the (take your pick) petty right-wing authoritarian government of Charles de Gaulle, consumerist culture, US imperialism, capitalism, racism and traditional sexual morality.
Charlie Jones , Good Trouble , 15 Jun 2018

Banksy’s Rare & Most Popular Artwork to Be Displayed in London Exhibition

London’s Lazinc gallery is about to showcase one of its more notable exhibitions to date, as its co-founder, Steve Lazarides, will be presenting a selection of Banksy’s rare artwork.
Renz Ofiaza , Highsnobriety, 14 Jun 2018

Banksy’s Original Gallerist to Display Rare Works in London

Co-founder of London’s Lazinc gallery, Steve Lazarides, is making preparations to launch a monumental show spotlighting a unique selection of Banksy‘s artworks.
Keith Estiler, HYPEBEAST, 13 Jun 2018

Get Ready for the Best of Banksy

There's no British artist more widely loved than Banksy, whoever he, she or they might be, (just to keep things simple we'll stick to he in this article).
Tabish Khan , Londonist, 12 Jun 2018

Banksy's Print Revolution

It's time to explore Banksy's impact on the fine art print industry, from exhibitions like Turf War to the creation of Pictures On Walls (POW)...
8 June 2018

Coming soon: Banksy and his greatest hits 2002 -2008

Banksy’s original gallerist Steve Lazarides and his Lazinc co-founder Wissam Al Mana are going to exhibit an influential collection of Banksy’s most iconic images this summer.
Mark Westall, FAD, 4 Jun 2018

‘Print, Paste, Protest’

JR has never been particularly worried about the legality of his work.
Holly Black, Elephant Magazine, 4 Jun 2018

Banksy: An exhibition of the street artist's Greatest Hits is coming to London

This summer, Banksy fans can take their hunt for his artwork off of the streets and into a Mayfair townhouse.
Ailis Brennan, London Evening Standard , 1 Jun 2018

Banksy Greatest Hits Exhibition Set For Lazinc In July

A new exhibition of work by the Street Artist Banksy will be staged by Steve Lazarides, the artist’s original gallerist, along with Lazinc co-founder Wissam Al Mana.
Artlyst, 1 Jun 2018

From Jeff Koons’s Wilting ‘Tulip’ in Paris to the Downfall of an Art-World Grifter: The Best and Worst of the Art World

The art dealer Steve Lazarides is selling a slew of rare Banksy artworks in his London gallery, and he’s betting on making record sales for the elusive street artist.
Caroline Goldstein, artnet, 1 Jun 2018

There’s a pretty big Banksy exhibition coming to London in July

Throw out your Valium, people, all the joy you’ve been looking for in the miserable nooks and crannies of your terrible life is just around the corner because a fairly substantial show of work by anonymous street art badboy Banksy is coming to London this July.
Eddy Frankel, Timeout , 31 May 2018

London Dealer Promises to Break Banksy Records in a Show of Work From the Artist’s ‘Golden Years’

The street art dealer Steve Lazarides, who was among the first to sell Banksy‘s work, will open a selling show of the anonymous artist’s works at his London gallery Lazinc in July.
Sarah Cascone, artnet , 30 May 2018

Interview with Steve Lazarides

Steve Lazarides, the dealer who is credited with launching Banksy’s career, is organising a “greatest hits” show of the Bristolian street artist’s works this summer, including one-off paintings that he expects will sell for more than £2m.
Annie Shaw , The Art Newspaper, 29 May 2018

Interview: Mark Jenkins

Mark Jenkins creates disturbingly real, life-sized sculptures. He and his collaborator Sandra Fernandez clone themselves out of many layers of sellotape to create the unnerving pieces that are often shrouded in hoodies.
Josh Jones , Le Cool , 24 May 2018

Mark Jenkins, BRD SHT, Lazinc Gallery, Mayfair

Following the success of Project 84, Mark Jenkins opens a solo show of new work at London Gallery, Lazinc.
Lucy Scovell , Culture Whisper, 18 May 2018

Mark Jenkins: BRD SHT

Next week American artist Mark Jenkins returns to London to unveil new works for his third solo exhibition at Lazinc.
Mark Westall, FAD, 18 May 2018

The Art of Protest: Mai 68

Fifty years on from the events of May 1968 in Paris, Jo Lawson-Tancred traces the graphic legacy of a protest that was felt around the world.
George Upton, PORT, 15 May 2018

Panel Discussion

Steve Lazarides, co-founder of Lazinc discusses everything from the Mai 68 posters to the street art we see today with Eleanor Watson, Dr Gavin Schwartz-Leeper and Clemency Burton-Hill.
11 May 2018

War of the water lilies

The Rockefeller fairy tale worked some gentle magic in New York this week. On May 8, the first 44 of about 1,550 items from the estate of Peggy and David Rockefeller steadily sold for a total $564.6m ($646.1m with fees) in under two hours.
Melanie Gerlis , Financial Times, 11 May 2018

Revolutionary Posters from the May 1968 Demonstrations in France go on display at the Lazinc Gallery

REVOLUTIONARY POSTERS FROM THE MAY 1968 DEMONSTRATIONS IN FRANCE GO ON DISPLAY AT THE LAZINC GALLERY
Inspiring City, 11 May 2018

The New Exhibit Exploring the Power of Protest Posters

Raising your voice has never been more important in 2k18. Showing signs of soliday matter and can be reached on a global scale in the Instagram age.
Hunger TV , 9 May 2018

Mai 68 Posters from the Revolution Marking 50 Years

On the fiftieth anniversary of the student protests that kicked off the Mai 68 Paris riots, London gallery Lazinc will present over fifty posters created and employed during the protests.
ArtLyst, 8 May 2018

Spirit of ’68 bows to market forces as rebel icons go on sale

In the turbulent days of May 1968 in Paris, a group of artists calling itself Atelier Populaire launched a guerrilla operation to turn out thousands of agitprop posters boosting the class struggle.
Kim Willsher, The Guardian, 5 May 2018

Things to do in London

VIVE LA RÉVOLUCION: This month marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Parisian student protests that kick-started both a social revolution and an artistic movement.
The Londonist, 4 May 2018

Could 1968 posters spark a sale revolution?​

Colin Gleadell, The Telegraph, 1 May 2018

Mai 68 Posters from the Revolution

Mark Westall, FAD Magazine, 23 Apr 2018

Exhibition Walk-through

A walk-through of the Miaz Brothers' third exhibition with Lazinc, Anonymous. Although we'd highly recommend you to come and visit, this video may be the next best thing...
21 March 2018

Contemporary artists Miaz Brothers discuss their unique style

"Sacrifice is very important, otherwise you cannot feel the time and the effort," states Renato Miaz, part of the Miaz Brothers art duo
Alice Cary, GQ , 18 Mar 2018

Must-Visit Art Exhibitions in London’s Mayfair and Chelsea

Better known as the Miaz Brothers, Roberto and Renato Miaz are back at Lazinc, Mayfair, showcasing the accurately named exhibition, Anonymous.
Dorothy Musariri, Design Curial, 15 Mar 2018

The Miaz Brothers – Interview

Artists Roberto and Renato Miaz hail from Italy and have created a style of work that is truly unique.
Josh Jones , Le Cool, 15 Mar 2018
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