Banksy in Venice? New work appears and perhaps the artist himself

An alleged work by British street artist Banksy is painted on the outer wall of a house overlooking the canal Rio de Ca Foscari, in Venice, on May 21, 2019. PHOTO: AFP
A street stall with oil paintings creating an image of a yacht in the Venice canal with a sign reading "Venice in oil", set up by a person purporting to be British artist Banksy, in Venice, Italy, on May 22, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

VENICE (AFP) - The mysterious British artist Banksy has apparently left his mark on a crumbling wall in Venice, and even claimed to have set up an unlicensed art stall in Italy's famous "floating city".

The image of a migrant child signalling for help, appeared, in the Banksy style, on a crumbling wall beside one of the Venice canals.

Meanwhile a video posted on Banksy's Instagram account was said to show the secretive artist, buried in hat, coat or newspaper, setting up an unlicenced art stall in the central Saint Mark's Square.

He sets up a series of nine oil paintings in the style of the 18th-century Venetian great Canaletto, which when placed together depict a huge cruise ship surrounded by tiny gondolas, plying their way through the Venice canals.

The piece, called Venice in Oil, seemed to denounce the mass tourism which is endangering much of Venice.

At the end of the video, the artist figure, whose face is always hidden, is told to pack up his stall and move on by Venice police.

There was no indication as to whether anyone had bought one, or all, of the canvases.

On his Instagram account he wrote: "Setting out my stall at the Venice Biennale. Despite being the largest and most prestigious art event in the world, for some reason I've never been invited."

The prestigious Venice international art fair got under way this month.

Banksy's most famous, or perhaps infamous, work is now called Love Is in the Bin.

Moments after the painting Girl with Balloon sold for £1,042,000 (S$1.82 million) last year - a joint record for the maverick artist - it literally went through the shredder, which was hidden in the frame.

The buyer went through with the purchase, and some art experts say it is now worth more than it had been before the stunt.

Despite years in the international spotlight as he became one of the most famous artists of his generation, remarkably little is known about the British artist.

"Nobody ever listened to me until they didn't know who I was," he has said with characteristic irony.

Though he was hustled off the Venice streets by the police, Banksy left his more lasting image on a wall; the picture of the little immigrant girl holding up a pink distress flare, standing in the style of the US Statue of Liberty.

As usual, the artist didn't sign the graffiti but Banksy fans on the internet had no doubt who was behind it.

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