London exhibition throws spotlight on Banksy's wider talents

The exhibition will include Girl With Balloon, a black and white image of a little girl letting go of a red heart-shaped balloon.
The exhibition will include Girl With Balloon, a black and white image of a little girl letting go of a red heart-shaped balloon.PHOTO: AFP
A gallery assistant poses with Banksy’s 2006 artwork, Flower Thrower, which will be showcased at the London exhibition.
A gallery assistant poses with Banksy’s 2006 artwork, Flower Thrower, which will be showcased at the London exhibition.PHOTO: AFP
Banksy’s 2006 artwork, Media, on display at the Lazinc Gallery in London, on July 11, 2018.
Banksy’s 2006 artwork, Media, on display at the Lazinc Gallery in London, on July 11, 2018.PHOTO: AFP
Banksy’s 2006 artwork, Bronze Rat, on display at the Lazinc Gallery in London, on July 11, 2018.
Banksy’s 2006 artwork, Bronze Rat, on display at the Lazinc Gallery in London, on July 11, 2018.PHOTO: AFP
Banksy's recent protected artwork of a rat wearing a bow tie in Paris, on June 28, 2018. The identity of the street artist remains anonymous till today.
Banksy's recent protected artwork of a rat wearing a bow tie in Paris, on June 28, 2018. The identity of the street artist remains anonymous till today.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Street artist Banksy is known around the world for his simple graffiti stencils, often with a sharp political point, but a new London exhibition is an opportunity to discover his wider talents.

The mysterious British artist from Bristol, south-west England, made his name with clandestine street murals but has also produced a treasure trove of other kinds of images as the value of his work soared.

"You've got quite a few different styles here, you've got everything from the stencils to the paintings to the crude oils," said Mr Steve Lazarides, co-founder of the Lazinc gallery where the show is held.

It includes classics such as Girl With Balloon, a black and white image of a little girl letting go of a red heart-shaped balloon, and Flower Thrower, depicting a masked protester ready to throw a bunch of posies.

But there are also lesser known works such as the oil painting Sunflowers From Petrol Station depicting Van Gogh's Sunflowers withered in a vase.

None of the framed pictures in Banksy, Greatest Hits: 2002-2008 was made on the street - all were made to be sold and are on loan from private collectors.

The show examines a prolific period when Banksy organised some of his most significant shows such as Crude Oil, Barely Legal and Turf War.

Mr Lazarides met Banksy in 1997 when he said he noticed his "visceral energy", and became first his photographer and then his gallerist.

"At this time, he was free, he didn't have the kind of expectations he has now. He was just painting for fun," he recalled.

Over the years, the value of Banksy's art exploded and he began producing paintings and limited edition prints, which allowed him "to do more and more elaborate street operations".

His anonymity has given him something of a mythical status, which Mr Lazarides feeds, saying: "It could be a team, it could be twins, a woman, who knows?"