Banksy started his illegal art activity as a graffiti artist in the 90s, which raised the attention of the man in the street and gained more and more interest from the art scene as well. Although he did not exhibit his work in galleries, in 2000 he and his partner and manager Steve Lazarides, who launched Banksy on his career path, started to replicate his works on paper and canvas prints. The stencils for painting walls were resized and then sold in series, initially from the trunk of a car. Over time, more and more of these prints appeared on the secondary market. The works went to auction and were knocked down at more and more incredible record prices by passionate collectors.
On the occasion of his own exhibitions, /Existstencilism (2002), Turf War (2003), Barelley Legal (2005), Dismaland (2015)/, Banksy also created more and more works on paper or canvas, including some that have never been seen as graffiti on walls, but which he gave to his visitors as souvenirs in print form. The Flying Coppers, which could be seen hanging from the ceiling in the gallery, evokes Banksy's one-weekend exhibition in London, the Turf War, where it was installed similarly.
He made his series available to the public in 50, 120 and 600 copies, both signed and unsigned. Banksy is a very active artist, with at least 1,000 original works already existing and some of these are thought to have been replicated in nearly 1,000 copies. The works on display in travelling exhibitions, including The Art of Banksy, are therefore collections of prints to which Banksy, the unknown artist, does not/cannot consent. Why? Because his identity is unknown, because graffiti is an illegal activity, an act punishable by law.
The exhibition in Budapest offered two specialties to the audience. Besides the works created between 2005 and 2008, one could also see one of Banksy’s most recent original works, coming straight from Bethlehem, The Banksy-run The Walled Off Hotel. Also, the exhibition was complemented by an augmented reality (AR) Museum Guide app that evokes city walls and brings original creations to the premises, making the discovery of the world of Banksy even more exciting.
Besides the prints presenting Banksy's iconic works, graffiti replicas were also exhibited, created by Hungarian graffiti artists Ákos Csere, Zoltán Czímer, Gergő Horváth, Zoltán Németh, based exactly on Banksy's stencils.
The aim of the exhibition was to give as comprehensive a view of Banksy’s artistic activities as possible. The exhibition did not follow the traditional chronological narrative, but rather presented Banksy's main themes. The first section exhibited the attitude of a rebel boy with punk roots towards the British power establishment. Moving on to 'the bay of the animals', one could see Banksy's favourite and recurring anthropomorphised animal figures. This was followed by providing an insight into his anti-war mission, as well as his sarcastic works reflecting our consumer society, not without some black humour.