Banksy, the exhibition in Ferrara tells the faceless artist

Inscrutable and unreachable as Greta Garbo: only known of him that he could have been born in Bristol, in the South West of England, perhaps in 1974. A faceless teacher: even if someone identifies him from time to time with Robert Cunningham, former student of the Bristol Cathedral Choir School, or with Robert Del Naja, musician and performer of Massive Attack. A brand of contemporary art capable of reaching hyperbolic quotations: 11, 1 million euros had been paid in 2019 by Sotheby's in London his large painting to oil Devolved Parliament (a Parliament with chimpanzees in the place of MEPs from the United Kingdom); 1, 25 million euros had instead cashed last 27 March the auction (also at Sotheby's) of his prints.

Between extreme gestures (the live destruction after yet another record of his Girl with Balloon, according to a survey «the work of most loved contemporary art in Britain ») and traces disseminated with skill (the stencil created on the eve of the opening of the Venice Biennale in 2019), the myth of Banksy does not seem to know crisis. So, while the exhibition has just closed at the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa The second principle of an artist called Banksy (with an extension that was sold out in a few minutes), the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara now hosts an artist called Banksy .

Vittorio Sgarbi (foto Ansa)
Vittorio Sgarbi (photo Ansa)

The exhibition, for some time scheduled but postponed due to the Covid emergency, open to the public until 27 September (“booking highly recommended” on the website), is curated by Stefano Antonelli, Gianluca Marziani and Acoris Andipa, conceived and produced by MetaMorfosi Cultural Association, in collaboration with Ferrara Arte of President Vittorio Sgarbi, who assures: “It will be the most beautiful exhibition of the reopening”. The one that (among other things) marks the return to “normalcy” of the Palazzo dei Diamanti (pending the planned restoration work) and the museum system of Ferrara.

A return which, moreover, also marks a change of pace in the cultural project: from the event exhibitions dedicated to Chardin (2010 – 2011), in Zurbarán (2013 – 2014), in Boldini (2015 – 2016), at Orlando Furioso and Ariosto (2016 – 2017), in Courbet and nature (2018 – 2019) to De Nittis (2019 – 2020) until (precisely) to contemporaneity according to Banksy (with a quote in the poster of the fantastic rustication of the Renaissance facade by Biagio Rossetti).

Therefore, a passionate tribute not so much to a generic street artist but to the most great global artist of the new millennium. And to the ingenious model of a whole new generation (inspired but also consciously committed to social issues) of young urban artists. For example, Banksy makes explicit reference Lockdown / Social, to the new intervention just inaugurated in Forio d'Ischia by Mimmo Di Caterino.

Only the much more media-oriented and glamorous Damien Hirst can today stand the comparison with Banksy, while Banksy's popularity and quotations seem rather inspired to the “master” Andy Warhol: he too fulminating example of celebrity of a living author, even if, as far as Andy is concerned, much more present and visible among vernissages, cocktails, social life. However, for Pietro Folena, president of MetaMorfosi, the Palazzo dei Diamanti exhibition is much more: «To produce, open and visit this exhibition dedicated to the deepening and knowledge of the most countercurrent artist on a global scale, right in the early days of the phase 2, represents an act of love, courage and hope towards the value of art and culture, after months of pain and difficulty “.

Once again, instead of the English artist (whom nobody has ever seen and whose face nobody knows), it will be his works. Although, explain the curators, “Banksy is in no way involved in this exhibition and the material for this exhibition comes entirely from private collections”. Further clarification: “His office was however informed.” The reason for this great refusal of the art system by Banksy, which is currently not represented by any gallery? «Breaking the rules, exposing the mechanisms of the market».

With his works “of unprecedented ethical, evocative power”, Banksy represents the best evolution of the original Pop Art (and Warhol appears once again among his possible models). The only one who has been able to connect the best roots of pop, the most avant-garde hip hop culture, eighties graffiti and the new approaches of digital time. In a simple but not elementary imaginary ( Gangsta Rat , 2004; Grannies , 2006) which contains “popular” and timeless messages on the themes of capitalism, war, social control and freedom, in short “on the paradoxes of our time”. And that goes directly to people's hearts, questioning “class” concepts such as uniqueness, originality, authorship.

One hundred and thirty between works and objects (from t-shirts to vinyl covers, from banknotes Banksy of England to posters) in an exhibition that in fact it accounts for its entire production. Twenty years of activity, from the paintings of the earliest stage of his career made in spray and plywood is one of the rediscoveries of the exhibition) to the very recent sculpture Mickey Snake with Mickey Mouse swallowed by a python. And then the stencils and serigraphs “which Banksy considers vital to spread his messages” and which often reproduce his interventions outdoors.

For some people they are real popular frescoes. Come Love is in the Air which reproduces the stencil appeared in 2003 in Jerusalem on the wall built to separate Israelis and Palestinians. Or like that Virgin Mary (or Toxic Mary) always from 2003 which elaborates “Renaissance culture and the concept of religion”. Other than street art : beyond street art .

The exhibition

An artist called Banksy will remain open to the public until 27 September at the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara. The exhibition is curated by Stefano Antonelli, Gianluca Marziani, Acoris Andipa. The exhibition is designed and produced by MetaMorfosi and Ferrara Arte (president Vittorio Sgarbi). They are 130 the works exhibited among serigraphs, prints, posters, t -shirt, vinyl covers. The entrance is contingent, the reservation is “highly recommended” (information and reservations, Ticket: euro 11. Opening: every day (June 2nd and 15 August included) from 11 at 21, Sagep catalog. Marco Gulinelli, Councilor for Culture of Ferrara, says of Banksy: “A volcano of ideas whose works convey essential parts of our reality”

30 May 2020 (edit the 30 May 2020 | 20: 57)