Banksy’s First (Unauthorized) Solo Show in Asia Is Coming to Hong Kong, Bringing the Street Artist to a City Torn by Street Battles

The touring "Banksy: Villain or Hero?" claims it has already been seen by 700,000 visitors.

An installation view of
An installation view of "Banksy: Genius or Vandal?" courtesy of Art Projectors/Last Bullet Productions/Portal 6311.

Undercover street art crusader Banksy is getting his first major show in Asia, courtesy of the traveling—and unauthorized—exhibition “Banksy: Genius or Vandal?” The exhibition is produced by Art Projectors Hong Kong in collaboration with Last Bullet Production and HKPI, and has traveled to cities including Lisbon, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Madrid. So far, the organizers boast that the Banksy extravaganza has been seen by over 700,000 visitors.

The show brings together more than 70 sculptures, prints, installations, videos, and photographs assembled from private collections, including a screenprint of the now infamous image Girl with Balloon, which self-destructed during a Sotheby’s auction last year (though the show’s version is non-shedded). The exhibition website’s landing page describes Banksy as “working out of asphalt trenches,” and quotes one of the producers of the event lauding him as “a mystery [who] works in disobedience to the law.”

Banksy has often been described in such grandiose terms. It remains in questionable taste in this case, as the celebration of his work as “a challenge to the system, a protest” comes at a moment in Hong Kong in which violent, high-stakes confrontations with the police over issues of national sovereignty are part of everyday life.

A branch of the Bank of China is covered with graffiti after protesters smashed windows and vandalised the premises in Hong Kong on October 7, 2019. Photo by Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images.

A branch of the Bank of China is covered with graffiti after protesters smashed windows and vandalised the premises in Hong Kong on October 7, 2019. Photo by Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images.

While organizers claim the show marks the first large-scale exhibition dedicated to the anonymous artist in Asia, Phillips hosted a selling exhibition from November–December 2018 called “Banksy: Who’s Laughing Now,” with lots ranging from $20,000 and $3 million. The auction house also hosted “Banksy: The Authentic Rebel” in Tapei earlier this year, in March.

Public hype for Banksy’s work reached a fever pitch earlier this month when his painting Devolved Parliament fetched a hefty $12 million after a bidding war in London. He also opened up an online store called Gross Domestic Product with a physical pop-up shop in Croydon, claiming that he was “forced into the merchandising market” by the onslaught of fakes flooding the market.

Tickets for “Banksy: Genius or Vandal?” in Hong Kong are on sale now for a cool $27.

“Banksy: Genius or Vandal?” is on view at PORTAL 6311, FTLife Tower, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong from December 20, 2019–March 1, 2020. 


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