Street art is increasingly becoming an accepted and even loved part of western society, at least in the forum of public opinion.
This can be seen in the results of a recent poll for the nation’s most beloved art work, which was won by Banksy’s iconic piece Girl with Balloon. With the rising popularity of documentaries like Exit Through the Giftshop, Saving Banksy and Piece by Piece, it’s no wonder that the public have become enamoured with the art form, seeing beauty as opposed to criminal damage.
However, the critical response to Banksy’s recent win has been disappointing, with sceptics saying the results are simply “proof of our stupidity”. In spite of its controversial nature, the message behind Banksy’s work is often clear and accessible. Accompanying Girl with Balloon, Banksy has painted the statement “there is always hope”, which is an easy sentiment to connect with in an ever-confused society.You don’t have to be wealthy or have a degree to engage with and participate in graffiti, and the art form’s separation from what is often considered a community rife with elitism might be the reason for the recent negativity surrounding Banky’s win. Whether or not you agree with either side of the political debate surrounding his work, the message of hope behind Banksy’s pieces and the artist’s ability to lift a mirror up to society (often with his tongue nearly bursting through his cheek) is a talent that warrants admiration and respect.
Graffiti is an art form that has the potential to inspire and connect with its audience in ways previously unheard of, and Banksy is just one of thousands of street artists who actively encourages his audience to change the way they perceive art and the society around them. When you take art out of the galleries and into the public’s environment, it means that everyone can access it, whether you’re a businessman, a teen or a mother of two. This is a truly unique phenomenon and it’s for this reason that street art will likely continue to grow in its popularity.
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