After a sold-out 10 week run at Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art, Banksy’s first solo show in almost 14 years comes to a close next week. The exhibition, entitled Cut and Run, gives the public the opportunity to rediscover paintings which have appeared around the world over the last 25 years; many of these can no longer be found on the street and, in some cases, the streets themselves no longer even exist. The exhibition displays the original stencils used to create many of his instantly recognizable images so, while the exhibition acts as a sort of retrospective and many will be familiar with the works involved, the viewer gets to experience them in a way they’ve never been able to do so before.
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The site-specific setting of street art has always been fundamental to the works as a whole and this is perhaps never more true than with Banksy, which underscores just how myopic it is to cut out his street pieces and remove them from their intended environment. In this exhibition, Banksy has replaced the original, intended physical context with a narrative context that provides both a fresh perspective and compelling insights. While Easton Hit Squad (Precision Bombing) has long since ceased to be found at the top of the eponymous neighbourhood’s St Marks Road, it is accompanied in the show by Banksy’s story about how locals in the queue at the local Post Office and down the pub mistakenly assumed it must have been the calling-card of a criminal gang. More recent followers of the Bristol artist’s work will recognise the pieces created on the war-ravaged buildings of Kyiv; the handwritten word ‘MIHИ’ (Ukranian for mine) on each stencil served as a practical note for the artist to be wary of concealed explosives in the areas he was working in and a subtle reminder for visitors to the exhibition back in Scotland of the impossible challenges faced by Ukrainians contending with Russia’s invasion of their country.
But the exhibition expands far beyond the stencils with which he’s perhaps most associated: there’s a comic book-style rendering of his origin story and how his flower thrower came to acquire the bouquet clasped in his right hand; there’s an opportunity for visitors to get their hands on and operate the distressed stuffed animals crammed into the Meat Truck which drove around New York during his BOTI ‘residency’ (covered); and there’s a dissected mock-up of the notorious auto-shedding frame which followed in the footsteps of Gustav Metzger and caused such a rumpus at Sotheby’s in 2018 (covered). Taken as a whole, the exhibition serves as both a reminder of the depth and breadth of the work he has created since running the streets with the Dry Breadz Crew in the late ‘90s and an insight into that work’s creation and subsequent interaction with the communities in which it resides.
The exhibition runs until 28th August 2023 at the Gallery of Modern Art, 111 Queen St, Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow G1 3AH.
Photo credit: feralthings