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Banksy in Ferrara: the new exhibition

Banksy in Ferrara: Banksy occupy Ferrara. Since Saturday over a hundred works of the famous street-artist English will be exhibited at the Palace of Diamonds, Renaissance heart of the Este city. The combination is surprising and is good news, given the myriad of exhibitions, more or less valid, which have recently been dedicated to him in our country (the last one, at Palazzo Ducale in Genoa, only a few months ago).

An artist called Banksy (from 30 May to 27 September, www.palazzodiamanti.it) offers 130 works which, according to the curators Gianluca Marziani, Stefano Antonelli and Acoris Andipa, have been rigorously authorized “by the Banksy group”, ie by Pest Control Office Limited, the company that protects Banksy’s trademark (yes, it is regularly registered). Many are famous, like Girl with Ballon or Love is in the air o the desecrating Monkey Queen. To these are added a series of official objects and memorabilia from dismaland, the “non-kid-friendly amusement park” that Banksy provocatively created five years in Somerset, southwest England.

Banksy in Ferrara
Banksy in Ferrara

Love Is In The Air (Flower Thrower), 2003

© Dario Lasagni

Will we see something new in Ferrara? Certainly not: among paintings, stencil and many serigraphs (the long-preferred technique, now abandoned), we retrace the salient stages of the Banksy-thought, born to be exposed on the street, to speak to passersby. However, that the exhibition is set up in Palazzo dei Diamanti, a secular temple of the Italian Renaissance, increases its charm. We will see a Banksy “more than a museum”: interesting.

The artist – or, as most likely, the collective of artists working on the project – it’s a pop epiphany, a brand that everyone knows and that often enters the public debate (we talked about it here is here). During the recent lockdown, after an initial silence, he returned to express himself: he did it ironically smartwork that many of us have been forced to, with a ironic post on Instagram immediately gone viral:

A month ago, then, the striking gesture: the donation of the work to the General Hospital of Southampton Game Charger, representing a child while, aside from Batman and Spiderman, he chooses to play with a “wonder-nurse”. The painting, a tribute to medical and health personnel for the hard work against coronavirus, will remain on display in the hospital until autumn, when auctioned to raise funds for the NHS, the British National Health Service.

To tell the truth, the work risked a lot: it has been known these days that a man was arrested in an attempt to steal it. It seems that the thief had entered the hospital at dawn on May 8, a few days after the donation of the street artist to the public hospital, but the news only emerged this week. Therefore, theft foiled. Yet another, after the arrest in February of two other people who were literally “tearing”, with the sound of drills, the famous murals that Banksy had made on an advertising sign near the Center Pompidou, in Paris.

The market always seems hungry for his works, more or less official: the Banksy-mania continued during the quarantine with a profusion of digital material dedicated to him (if you love murals, here are the best works of the street artist visible also “from home”, thanks to Google Street View).

L’art world reacts perplexed: many believe that Banksy has long since exhausted his disruptive position and has become only a predictable marketing phenomenon. Could be. For this reason, observing his early works – as it will be possible to do also in the exhibition in Ferrara – is useful for grasping his artistic parable, beyond the media creature he has become.

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