No, Banksy Didn’t Create Those West Bank Trump Murals Everyone’s Talking About
The works are actually by Australian street artist Lush.
Several news outlets have worked themselves into a lather speculating that two new murals in the West Bank featuring US President Donald Trump are the work of Banksy. The anonymous British street artist has previously created work on the West Bank wall, and earlier this year, he opened the satirical “Walled Off Hotel” just a stone’s throw from where the new paintings appear. But these additions to the West Bank landscape are not Banksy works; they were created instead by Australian graffiti artist Lush.
One work depicts the controversial US leader in a yarmulke, reaching out to touch a wall, with a thought bubble that reads “I’m going to build you a brother.” On August 3, the Washington Post published a transcript of a phone call between Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pen Nieto in which the former reality TV star insisted that “[Israeli Prime Minister] Bibi Netanyahu told me the wall works.” (The barricade currently being constructed along 440 mile border between the West Bank and Israel is actually primarily made up of fences, not walls.) One of Trump’s signature campaign promises was to build a wall along the nearly 2,000-mile US-Mexico border, and have Mexico pay for it.
The painting is based on a picture taken of Trump during his recent visit to Jerusalem when he approached the Western Wall, the remnant of the ancient temple and a sacred site for the Jewish people. The second mural, decorated with pink hearts, is situated next to an Israeli army watch-tower so that Trump appears to hug it.
The pieces “resemble Banksy’s earlier art,” wrote Iyad Moghrabi in a widely republished article from the Associated Press. (Let’s be clear—they don’t.)
Amusingly, Russian television network RT parroted this claim, noting that the works share a likeness to [Banksy’s] signature style” even while embedding Instagram photos of the murals from their actual creator, Lush. “Tag someone you love more than Trump loves walls,” the artist wrote in the post.
It isn’t Lush’s first time tackling political content. During the 2016 US presidential campaign, he created several pieces about Trump and his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, including one of her in a revealing bathing suit. The work was censored by Instagram and ultimately removed, even after the artist repainted it with a modest black niqab, revealing only Clinton’s eyes.
More recently, Lush made headlines for immortalizing Jerry Seinfeld and Kesha’s awkward non-hug, in which the comedian refused to submit to the pop star’s embrace, claiming he didn’t know who she was. The encounter quickly became a meme.
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