Who is Banksy? Where is Banksy? What will the artist do next?
From working class beginnings in Bristol, England, in the early 1990s up through last week’s discovery of works found hidden throughout the war-torn Ukraine, many questions have long gone unanswered surrounding Banksy.
How does a clever, socio-political artist with the stealth ability of a cat burglar and the street savvy of a graffiti writer, get away with work on walls across the world?
Some of those questions will be answered starting Dec. 3 when “Banksy Was Here: The “unauthorized” Exhibition” World Tour opens at Philadelphia Fashion District on 9th and Market streets. Running through Jan. 31, 2023 and containing more than 80 genuine and certified Banksy pieces held by collectors around the globe, this touring gallery show’s stop in Philly is a rare opportunity to see work normally frozen in place, owned by private art aficionados or removed too quickly by clever pilferers who then put them for sale to the highest bidders.
And no. None of the items at “Banksy Was Here” will be for sale.
The new interactive “Banksy Was Here” exhibition features rare street art, installations, sculptures and videos of famed works such as the “Lenin” portrait and “Fallen Angels,” as well as showings of the infamous “Girl with Balloon” painting destroyed (put through a shredder) by the artist at London’s Sotheby’s auction house.
Exhibition Hub Executive Producer John Zaller – curating and creating the “Banksy Was Here” experience in collaboration with the Lilley Fine Art/Contemporary Art Gallery – chose Philly to exhibit the anonymous street artist’s work due to this city’s gritty nature and role in its development of internationally renowned graffiti artists such as Cornbread.
“We chose Philly as the World Premier for “Banksy Was Here” because the city matches the art’s style — smart, real, and tough,” he said. “We also chose Philly because of its important role in the street art movement in the US. Philly has given rise to more great street artists than any other city in the country.”
As for his and his Exhibition Hub’s role and aim in presenting “Banksy is Here”, as a graphix-heavy interactive street-scape with its own, separate unique Virtual Reality experience as part of its show, Zaller says, “We’re creators and curators first. We are always looking for a great subject that we can turn into an exhibition or an experience, which we have been doing for more than two decades. It is a painstaking process and takes years to put together the final experience that is ready for presentation. As promoters, we strive to share our experiences with the public in a clear and accessible manner.”
For information and tickets, visit banksyexpo.com/philadelphia