Exit through the gift shop: Banksy street art lands in Antwerp

Summary

Antwerp’s Stadsfeestzaal hosts an out-of-place exhibition of over 80 works by the controversial British street artist

100% unauthorised

Amid much fanfare, equal amounts of controversy and a canny promotional strategy involving strategically placed red balloons – a nod to one of Banksy’s most iconic works – the travelling exhibition The Art of Banksy opened in Antwerp’s Stadsfeestzaal shopping centre last month.

The exhibition features more than 80 works by the anonymous British street artist, known for his dark humour, anti-capitalist stance and distinctive stencilling technique. Highlights include his much-loved “Girl with Balloon” (2002) and his Warholian portraits of Kate Moss.

All pieces come from private collectors, and the archive of the show’s curator, Steve Lazarides – a street art mogul who rose to fame as Banksy’s former agent. “This exhibition is a one-off – never will you be able to see this amount of work in one place again, says Lazarides. “Once the show is over, the artwork will dissipate back to the 40 collectors around the world, and the likelihood of them being brought together again in the future is very slim.” 

While the show has already drawn crowds in Amsterdam, Istanbul and Melbourne, it has also raised the hackles of critics. The latest “100% unauthorised” show staged by Lazarides, who famously fell out with Banksy 10 years ago, its pricy entry fee (€17.50), a gift shop and gimmicky layout – brick wallpaper mimics the urban setting of the original stencils – are all anathema to Banksy’s anti-commercial ethos.

The Stadsfeestzaal is a curious choice of venue, too. While the gilded neoclassical shopping centre has hosted art exhibitions in the past, these days it’s more familiar as the home of Habitat and Urban Outfitters.

Just don’t forget to exit through the gift shop.

Until 19 March, Stadsfeestzaal, Antwerp