There was a time when the appearance of a new artwork by Banksy was thrilling. Not anymore. The latest mural by the anonymous street artist was unveiled on the side of a semi-detached house in Bristol this week. It depicts an elderly lady sneezing, her dentures, handbag and walking stick sent flying in the commotion.
The woman who owns the house hopes its value will skyrocket – and she is probably right. But if we had any sense, the opposite would be true. “Aachoo!”, as the work is called, is banal and lightweight. It alludes to this wretched, virus-ridden year, without telling us anything about it. Like a sneeze, it is both unignorable and instantly forgettable.
Banksy’s work has always been like this. There is so little to say about even his most celebrated, early murals, such as “Girl with Balloon” (2002) or “Well Hung Lover” (2006), beyond the fact that they raise a smile. Which is fine but doesn’t quite warrant international acclaim.
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