When people think of Street Art, they immediately connotate it as illegal graffiti which has vandalised neighbourhoods and been sprayed on every wall they can get to – which is quite often places you would not think you could get to. It is true that some Street Art is technically unlawful. But the actual aesthetic quality with specific Street Art is beyond a spray can and a yob with too much spare time. It is meaningful, passionate and above all creative.
Normally Street Artists want to create work stemming from an idea or value they have. This sometimes questions social comments, other times it challenges politics, governments or regimes. The artist who is known only by the pseudonym Banksy, basis his work around these principles. Shepard Fairey has a number of pieces directed towards governmental regimes, particularly communism. Both Kerry Roper and Pure Evil (pseudonym of Charles Uzzell-Edwards) look at the concept of culture shock, putting things or people in situations which are completely not acceptable and certain societies (a child holding a Kalashnikov for example).
Taking a trip to the Herbet Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry as there was a Street Art exhibition on was very enlightening for me as I was broadened to the work out there in this subject. I am very familiar with Banksy and know about Pure Evil but my background in Street Art is quite limited I confess. There is more work out on display in the gallery then I have ever seen on the internet or in books – which is shameful as the gallery of work is only one room.
I have always had an interest in the work of Banksy, I just find him compelling and a genius in the ideas he finds through looking at our culture. He sees something in the world around us and makes a social comment about it through the medium of Street Art. I also adore the way he subverts traditional art with a modern twist – I’ve always loved this whether it be music or art but Banksy seems to have an edge. When I was in the Herbet, I saw a piece of Banksy’s work which was completely new to me. It’s name, the Virgin Mary. It’s theme, the Virgin Mary feeding an infant (one would assume Jesus) with a bottle…of poison. I am no art critic and therefore I am not going to comment on the piece of work itself though I will comment on the shock factor it has on the audience, and why would anyone want to create a piece so controversial. But then that’s Banksy’s style – breaking the rules.