Banksy in Paris – Political Art Never Sleeps
Here we are again: Banksy is back.
In the last days, in Paris, 7 new pieces of the most anonymous of all the living artists have appeared.
Politic, dark beauty and black humour, of course.
Banksy in Paris: the Makeup
Graffiti in the graffiti: a black child covers with an adorable pink pattern (something like a Victorian wallpaper) a most well-known symbol: a Nazi swastika.
She’s not erasing it. She’s only softening it, covering it with a gorgeous veil, a makeup to rejuvenate something ancient.
Because that’s what men do – it seems Banksy’s suggesting us – they change the form but not the substance. If the thing seems different, then you’ll think it’s really different.
Banksy in Paris: the Good Dog (the Pavlov’s one?)
And then the poor dog (we would all be that dog, my rough guess)! Trained by the master to receive a bone as a reward (a bone, not meat).
Well, the bone is its own bone, just sawed, but that’s another story.
“They“ take everything away from us, Banksy seems to say, but then “they“ give it back to us, very well stripped. And we should also be happy, wagging the tail. In this way, we would soon forget the wound inflicted on us.
We must develop the reflex of being happy for this kind of gifts.
Banksy in Paris: Rat, Rat, Rat
Then, as in tradition, the rats arrive.
The as***les rats, those who cannot be killed even with bombs. «The only animal to survive the apocalypse» as said Blek Le Rat, who spread his stencil-made rats in Paris from the 80s, and that seems to be (rightly) admired by Banksy.
A mouse was hit on its head (perhaps) with a piece of an old graffiti, the inscription “Mai 1968“, which is the date of the French students and workers revolt.
The number “8“, hypothetically detached from the wall, seems like a hair bow, on the rat’s head.
Or, that “8” on the head, is there to remind us about the other “mouse“, the universal Pop symbol: Mikey Mouse.
Have we forgotten about the struggles of 1968? Have the lousy rats that attacked the bourgeois power of that time, turned into “entertainment rats“ today? In “Mikey Mouse“?
Even the rats got bourgeois?
Maybe yes, and then another mouse goes on a journey aboard the cap of a bottle of champagne. It’s all right, let’s celebrate!
Or maybe not, and a “real“ rat, part of the ancient ones, the pesky ones, the fucking-the-system ones, gets ready, gagged, to cut a cable, to disconnect the power, to take back the riot.
Banksy in Paris: Napoleon, or the Illuminated Guide of the People
And then there is him, the controversial Monsieur Napoléon Bonaparte.
It may be that this seems the most trivial graffiti, but perhaps it is the deepest.
The reference, ça va sans dire, is the painting by Jacques-Louis David “Napoleon Crossing the Alps“, painted between 1801 and 1805.
But what does this graffiti mean?
Maybe it is only a reference to the “power“, which remains gagged by itself.
While David’s Napoleon had the wind in his sails, and he explained his cloak in the cool wind of the Alps indicating the way of conquest, Banksy’s Napoleon seems to have been trapped in his own ardor.
Result: a clumsy Napoleon, a sort of caricature of himself.
Even the expression of the horse takes on different meanings in the painting by David and the one by Banksy.
If in the original one the horse seems taken by the same force that transpires from the gestures of Napoleon, it seems taken by the desire of conquest, in the Banksy’s graffiti the horse seems dismayed, afraid, it doesn’t know how to react to Napoleon as a victim of his own cloak (and also a victim of himself).
Maybe it doesn’t know if it’s scared or amused.
Let’s try to exaggerate with the exegesis: in 1801, the year of the scene in David’s painting, Napoleon was at a turning point in his political-military career.
Started as an artillery officer in the service of Revolutionary France (therefore, if possible, of the French People), Napoleon had made a fulminant career, and at the beginning of the new century he was the idol of the army and the crowds.
Seeing this, he had thought well to say enough is enough with Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. In the year VIII of the Revolution, he had completed a coup d’etat to become “Premier consul de la Republique“.
In short, as often today’s politicians, he had used the power of the people for personal gain. In 6 years he would have crowned himself as “Monsieur l’Empereur” (as David tells us in the famous “The Coronation of Napoleon“, 1805-07, Paris, Louvre).
So, maybe Banksy wants to tell us something else besides the clumsiness of Napoleon?
What makes fun of is the power, in absolute terms, or, even better, the power that “gentrify“ the People’s Revolution as for the old souvenir of Mai 1968?
What Banksy tells us, as always, is only one thing: “Resist, resist, resist“!
Reflecting on things and events, of course. In an intelligent and wise way, as the anonymous artist from Bristol has been doing for a few decades now.
Even at the cost of looking a little as***les rats.
Banksy in Paris: The pity Girl
BREAKING NEWS: few hours ago a new graffiti, the 7th, appeared.
A young female figure, with the veiled head, appeared on a door behind the Bataclan club. A terrorist attack took place here on 13 November 2015: 137 people died and 368 were injured.
Is, the pity face of the girl, a sad homage to the memory of the massacre?
Oh, these days in Paris there are also the fashion weeks. For those who want to look away…
Text by the PhotoPhore