Banksy's 7 Most Iconic Artworks

Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based street artist, political activist, and film director whose name and identity remain unknown and is the subject of speculation. Active since the 1990s, his satirical street art and provocative epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti that he executes with a distinctive stencilling technique.

Reputed as one of the world’s most well-known street artists, Banksy has produced an incredible number of works during his career. For some, his art is exceptional, thoughtful, ironic, and humorous while for others they consist of plain vandalism of property. Let’s take a look at some of the most iconic Banksy artworks of all time. 

1) Sweep It Under The Carpet - London and Hoxton Square

This creation first appeared in 2006 on Chalk Farm Road in London, and a year later appeared in Hoxton Square. Although there are many interpretations, it is most notably proposed that this article represents the denial and the reluctance of western countries to deal with an assortment of different global issues, thus sweeping them under the carpet.

2) Hula Hoop Girl - Nottingham

This stunning piece shows a young girl using a hula hoop on a bicycle wheel while the real bicycle is chained to a lamppost nearby. As with several other Banksy artworks, it was vandalized a couple of days after the artist posted it on his Instagram. In 2020, the bicycle that made up part of the work had been removed from the signpost. By the next day, the mural had been replaced with a different bicycle, without a rear wheel, in the exact location.

3) The Mild Mild West - Bristol

Numerous people consider this work to be referring to the Bristol riots in the 1980s as there were apparently many unlicensed parties occurring in Bristol at various warehouses around the city, where police assaulted multiple people who attended such events. 

4) The Flower Thrower - Jerusalem

This mural is considered one of Banksy’s best works. It features a man dressed up in clothes that one would usually associate with riots, but instead of throwing a destructive weapon, he’s throwing a bouquet of flowers. The artwork is an indication of peace instead of war. Banksy produced it during one of his trips to Palestine and the piece is also thought to be in response to the three people stabbed during a pride parade in the Middle East.

5) Follow Your Dreams  - Chinatown, Boston

This meaningful artwork is located in the low-income area of Chinatown in Boston. The mural shows a glum-looking painter who has painted the words ‘follow your dreams on the wall and then stamped it across with the word ‘canceled’. This piece also has eclectic interpretations. Some people believe it shows the difference between classes while others believe that it’s the artist's way of showing how everyone is told to follow their dreams, but nobody lets anyone attain their goals.

6) Slave Labour - Wood Green, North London

In this mural, a boy seems on his knees sewing British flags. This is said to have been the artist’s way of opposing the ongoing exploitation and condemning the shops used to manufacture souvenirs made to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. The mural lasted for about a year before it was pulled and auctioned off. 

7) Napalm/ Can’t Beat That Feeling 

Napalm, also popularly known as Can’t Beat That Feeling, is inspired by an iconic Pulitzer-winning photograph from the Vietnam War. Clicked by AP Photographer, Nick UT, the picture featured little children, including young Phan Thi Kim Phuc, fleeing from an attack in the town of Trang Bang after a bombing raid by US soldiers. In Banksy’s work, Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald feature on either side of the young woman, depicting US Capitalism and its downfall. 

Written by Sara Ayoob

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