Monday, December 03, 2007

Banksy of England

All the money that's fit to print...not too shabby if you do it yourself. Banksy, that prankster deluxe, shows iconic images, tweaked. A sheet of uncut, adulterated banknotes, a sly Di replacing the Queen. Why stop there? "Banksy of England" looks good on paper. Stuffed into three minute rooms of a townhouse gallery (and hung crookedly, with prices scrawled in pencil directly on the wall), this show brims with pithy, subversive and ribald work. This street artist has been hitting the paper and canvas for several years; this is not his first show in New York, and the images aren't new. So what! They're so immediate: a girl hugs a nuclear bomb; death with a smiley face, perched on a clockface ("Grin Reaper"); a Warhol Marilyn that looks more like Kate Moss--the T shirt comes in a variety of color combos. A military helicopter with a huge pink bow ("Happy Choppers"). His substitution of bananas for guns (think Tarantino) still has me shaking with laughter. What he's not taking the piss out of he's pissing on. Sometimes both, simultaneously. Even though alot of the work is familiar, it doesn't lessen the impact. Banksy of England, we are thine.

Verdict: scathing social commentary veined with insouciance. No leg but lots of cheek.
Goes with: a fat wallet. But there's a catalogue...
This is an unauthorized show.

Banksy, at Vanina Holasek Gallery
502 W. 27 st.
through Dec. 29

p.s.--Can't afford the real thing? Pull a Richard Prince...