Banksy goes to Hollywood - Americas - World - The Independent

Banksy goes to Hollywood

As the graffiti artist's Oscar-nominated film faces the Academy vote, new artworks have made him the talk of LA

The child soldier appears to be pointing his oversize machine gun at a no-parking sign. But look more closely: those bullets are colourful crayons. And he's standing in a flowerbed that appears to have been sketched by an infant using exactly the same crayons.

Then we have Charlie Brown. The stencilled painting shows him pouring petrol while a cigarette dangles mischievously from his lips. Take a step back and you realise that it adorns a burnt-out apartment.

Both images were created in Los Angeles some time between sunset on Monday and sunrise on Tuesday. Within a few hours, they had been photographed and posted on the local street art blog Melrose & Fairfax. And pretty soon, readers had jumped to an exciting conclusion: Banksy is back in Hollywood.

The world's most famous graffitist is believed to have arrived in town over the weekend, with the intention of drawing attention to his oeuvre at a crucial moment: members of the Academy will this week vote in the election that will decide whether his film Exit Through the Gift Shop wins the 2011 Oscar for Best Documentary.

Banksy has tirelessly used art to promote his movie in recent months, leaving several images on walls in Park City, Utah, before it premiered at Sundance. He also visited Los Angeles around the time of the film's theatrical release, stencilling (among other things) an image of a policeman walking a Jeff Koons-style balloon dog to a wall in Hollywood.

His latest pieces were publicised in suitably guerrilla fashion. "On Tuesday, a friend of mine was emailed a photograph of the child soldier from a contact who is close to Banksy," says Greg Linton, the editor of Melrose & Fairfax. "We stuck it up on the site, and within 15 minutes, someone had posted its location. So we immediately went there and took more photographs." Within a couple of hours, the images had gone viral, sparking heated debate about their meaning, along with all the usual discussions about whether Banksy's spray paint should be properly regarded as vandalism or art.

"To me, this is some of the best work he's ever done," says Sebastian Buck, the author of the street art blog Unurth. "He has often pointed fun at the military industrial complex. Putting a gun in a kid's hand is a striking way to do that, then twisting it by replacing bullets with crayons, so there's only peaceful intent, that's very clever. Of course coming to America to do this makes an even more political statement."

"The Charlie Brown work doesn't look that impressive until you see the fact that the building is burnt out. But that's the real joy of his pieces: they always speak to the context they are in. And they always have an underlying message or point."

Los Angeles has been a happy hunting ground for Banksy on his two previous working trips. In 2007, at the height of the art boom, he staged a lucrative exhibition at which buyers included Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. A live elephant was hired to stand in the middle of the gallery; visitors were handed leaflets telling them not to discuss it.

This year's visit is all the more intriguing because of confusion about what will happen if Exit actually wins an Oscar. Since the reclusive Bristolian artist refuses to show his face in public, and the Academy isn't willing to let him collect the award in disguise, the film's co-producer Jaimie D'Cruz has reportedly agreed to accept the statuette on his behalf.

At time of going to print, unconfirmed reports suggested that two more Banksys had just appeared. Meanwhile, debate was raging over the fact that the "child soldier" piece adorns the wall of a branch of Urban Outfitters. Cynics said the choice of location represents a sell-out, since it helped draw attention to a chain store which sells Banksy's best-selling coffee-table book Wall and Piece.

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week