DID BANKSY SPRAY OUR LOVELY PORTUGUESE TOWN ?
Rumours are circulating, tongues are loosened, curious minds are on guard.
Last week, we were faced to an information that astonished us. We, members of a street art collective (Yesyoucan.spray), who thought to know almost all the secrets of street art life in Lisbon, read that BANKSY would have let his mark in town? How could we miss such an important event? And guess what? This not so trustful source gave a photo as a proof. Well, bad luck for them, before sharing our knowledge about street art, we made deep researches (thanks to Véro, the amazing creator of the collective who worked a lot to create the street art tours). Researches were made to make sure not to spread wrong information, and not to confuse an artist to another, even when their styles are close. We know that every artist has its own style even when he uses the same technique as another.
So, yes, when you see this picture, you can think it’s a piece by Banksy because of the technique: the stencil. Only, stencil is used by a huge part of street artists for many reasons. Among them, it’s a technique that allows you to take your time at home to perfect your piece, and spread it in few seconds, which is very useful for illegal pieces. But it’s also a way to have a perfect result and make your own style recognizable.
This wonderful piece paying tribute to the Revolução do Cravos that ended the Salazarist dictatorship in 1974 was made by Adres, a talented Portuguese artist who amazes us with his impressive pieces all around Lisbon. So yes, he is nicknamed the Portuguese Banksy, yes, the err is human, but we don’t like fake news, so we decided to write this article to inform you that Banksy is not in town yet, even if we would be delighted to welcome one or few of his pieces in our beautiful city.
This article is also a good opportunity for us to introduce you to Banksy’s art (if you don’t know this artist yet) and explain why his name is spreading so many fake news and mystery.
The mystery is fed by the artist himself.
Almost everybody knows Banksy, but nobody really knows who he is. That is to say, since the late 90’s, he amazes people with his art, but he always kept anonymous. This talented artist could be your neighbour, your friend or even a member of your family! The only things we know about him is that he is British and that he was born in the 70’s.
Besides his huge talent and his artistic gift, the secret about his identity played a huge role in his fame, because nowadays, we live in a society that is appealed by mystery and the unknown. This engaged artist denounces capitalism, militarism and fights for rights and liberty. He really uses his art as a weapon to spread his mind and express his ideas. He started in the streets but is nowadays also presents in museums and have his own hotel. He also made a temporary exhibition, Dismaland which consisted in the creation of a full-sized amusement part, or better, bemusement park as he liked to name it. In it, visitors could see the reality without all the artifices spread by consumerism. Cinderella in a car accident, refugees on boats instead of dolls (on the model of the attraction “It’s a small world”), or the duck fishing becoming impossible due to the massive amount of fuel oil that trapped the ducks.
The genius of this artist is limitless and quite unique. He has now become a role model for the street art scene. Even for the people who are foreigners of this field, he is very often the only street artist that they can name.
He also realized a documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) in which he presents the street art world and all its challenges such as the commercialization of an art that used to be public. He has a very developed critical spirit and exercises hindsight when he depicts the society in which he evolves. He also draws a critical analyse about his own art and its value. Who haven’t heard about his last stroke of genius during an auction in London last month?
Once the winner of the auction was indicated, the piece (Girl with balloon) that costed 1,042 pounds to his buyer self-destructed under de bewildered eyes of the audience. Some people see this action as genius, showing that even the artist is aware of how capitalism changed the aim of art itself. Others, more cynical see through this performance a commercial strategy and a mass publicity stunt. Even if the minds are divided about this subject, we can all agree that we can find the ironic and critical spirit of the artist in this action and that this feeds the mystery and questioning around Banksy and his art.
Adres, the Portuguese Banksy.
Even if Banksy didn’t make us yet the honour of doing a piece on our city, we have the chance to have an equally talented national artist here in Lisbon: Adres. Banksy’s and Ares’s styles are quite close and that’s why some people could eventually confuse them.
Adres uses stencils and he mainly does his pieces with black paint. He uses an ironical ton and spreads anticonsummerist and antisystem messages around the city. We also can find some characters that dialogue with the environment they are painted in. Adres made a piece that pays tribute to the Portuguese pacific revolution in the city centre and ironically had some issues with the police because of it.
Now that facts are clear and that the merit of this wonderful piece has been restored to its author, we could do nothing but advising you to go and check the pieces of Adres around Lisbon.
Also, if you want to discover Lisbon throw a new perspective thanks to our street art tours (fakenewsless guaranteed;)), go and subscribe on https://lisbonstreetarttours.wordpress.com/our-tours-options/. You can join the open tour on Saturday, at 15h starting from Praça Luis de Camões !
We also invite you to check Banksy’s website and Dismaland’s website:
And check out me works made by Adres: