When it comes to street art exhibitions, it really doesn't get any bigger than this. A retrospective of Banksy's work has made its way to Australia, featuring more than 80 of the artist's off-street masterpieces.
Opening today, Friday, October 7 at The Paddock in Melbourne's Federation Square, The Art of Banksy is a massive collection of pieces by the art world's chief enigma — including the darkly satirical, overtly political work that has turned the stencil-loving artist into such an infamous icon. Endeavouring to take audiences on a journey through Banksy's output and mindset, the exhibition includes the well-known Girl with Balloon, Flag Wall and Laugh Now pieces, as well as three efforts that have never before been displayed to the public.
If it sounds epic, that's because it is. The art featured has been sourced from over 40 different private collectors around the world, and comprises the largest showcase of Banksy pieces to ever make its way to our shores. As curated by the artist's former manager Steve Lazarides, the exhibition is also a little controversial. While every piece is original, unique and authentic, The Art of Banksy proudly boasts that the entire show is 100 percent unauthorised. No, Banksy hasn't signed off on the event.
As well as displaying Banksy's work in a custom-built enclosure, The Art of Banksy also shines a light on a range of pieces by well-known and emerging local street artists. Expect to find them on the surrounding external surfaces and the inside walls of the exhibition's own Circle Bar, which will serve craft beers and cocktails. Outside, the Welcome to Thornbury team will corral a heap of food trucks into an area called 'The Railyard'. Plus, on Friday nights and Saturday arvos, DJs will also provide appropriate tunes to suit the occasion.
Of course, Melburnians will know that this isn't the mysterious figure's first dalliance with the city. The artist's stencils have popped up around the city previously courtesy of a visit in 2003, though many have been destroyed and damaged in the years since.
The Art of Banksy will run from October 7 to January 22 at The Paddock in Federation Square, Melbourne. For more information or to buy tickets, visit the exhibition website.