Walking into the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, I found myself engulfed in the electric aura of *CUT & RUN*, Banksy's first authorised institutional solo show since 2009, an exquisite display of a quarter-century of his mysterious yet deeply influential presence in the art world. This isn’t just an exhibition - it’s an exploration, an unveiling, and indeed, a critical look at society through the lens of an artist who has miraculously guarded his anonymity while becoming a global phenomenon.
Banksy's impact and commentary have been far-reaching and undeniably significant, with works that extend from stencilled ants in his early days to the famously shredded “Girl With Balloon” - a feat that flabbergasted a Sotheby's audience. The display offers not merely a collection of art but an immersive experience into the mind of an artist who has retained his mystery while becoming as recognisable as any Warhol or Haring piece.
The careful curation of this event sheds a light on Banksy's working process. His stencils, which have been hidden away for years potentially as safeguards against criminal damage charges, are now revealed to the public eye, offering an unprecedented look into the underbelly of his creation process.
It's not just the mastery of stencilling that captures the imagination, but also the playful yet cutting commentary, the subversive spirit, and a subtle glimpse into the man behind the moniker. Banksy, the “Scarlet Pimpernel of modern art”, takes us on a journey, revealing not just his art, but the undercurrents of societal norms and political landscapes that he challenges with each spray, stencil, and installation.
As we navigate through room-sized installations, Banksy's wit, humour, and mischievous personality envelop us. A recreated teenage bedroom, complete with The Specials’ posters and catapults, alongside a giant strip cartoon that explores the development of the artist, inject a rich narrative and context into his visually enthralling works.
The notable feature of Banksy's work, especially evident in *CUT & RUN*, is the engagement with locality and the present socio-political context. The Duke of Wellington statue, known for its perennially cone-adorned head courtesy of playful Glaswegians, receives a nod in the first room, connecting international art narratives with the local, embedding the exhibition deeply into the ethos of Glasgow.
Although the graffiti artist is often celebrated for his scathing political commentary, what unveils in this retrospective is a "practical joker with a conscience." But is the heart of Banksy's work somewhat lost when removed from the urban streetscape that it often dialogues with? The streets, where his pieces often surprise and provoke thought in the daily lives of the public, contrast starkly with the confined, curated walls of a gallery.
Despite this, stepping into the carefully architected chaos of Banksy’s world at the GoMA offers a unique perspective, bringing us as close as we may ever come to understanding the man behind the mask. Whether it be the subversive humour, the striking visuals, or the curiously intimate revelations about his motivations and beginnings, Banksy has once more caught the public eye and imagination, this time not in the fleeting glance of street art, but in a substantial, explorative retrospective.
*From an eerie replication of his studio space, revealing the "actual sweepings from [his] studio floor," to a surprisingly personal narrative towards the show’s end, this beautifully constructed chaos brings us into a tangible, physical exploration of not just Banksy’s art, but his history, his political and social commentary, and his undoubtedly impactful legacy in the world of contemporary art.*
*CUT & RUN* isn’t merely an exhibition but an opportunity - to see, to ponder, to question, and to appreciate an artist that has ceaselessly challenged, amused, and surprised us. It's a blend of the audacious and the intimate, the public and the personal, the artist and the observer, making it not just an exhibition but an experience of the tangible connection we all share to the spaces, both public and private, that shape our world.
Visit the official website of the exhibition to buy exhibition catalogues and posters.
Explore our collection of Banksy signed prints for sale or speak to our gallery to buy Banksy unsigned prints via firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)20 7589 2371