There has been a new style of graffiti appearing around the downtown core of Toronto. Seven pieces were reported to be the work of Banksy, who is an famous yet anonymous artist from England, in town to promote his film Exit Through the Gift Shop. The subject of Banksy's film - Mr Brainwash (Thierry Guetta) visited Toronto during the 2011 TIFF opening and arranged an art installation featuring giant spray paint cans and red jacketed Mounties. The popular question - is Banksy behind the art that Mr Brainwash shows?
Banksy's work which is really different from the traditional colourful graffiti and tags that fill many surfaces in Toronto. Some of the art shows men in suits holding signs that say things like "0% interest in people". I hoped to be able to find the works and take some pictures but people said that they were asked to not reveal the locations of the pieces.
Torontoist was eagerly following the story and reported when a piece was destroyed or painted over and I was watching my chances of seeing the work in person rapidly diminish. Then Torontoist finally decided to release the locations and grabbing our GPS we headed out on a satellite guided expedition to see the remaining paintings. Thanks Torontoist!
This piece is on a building on the south side of Lake Shore Boulevard West between York and Bay. A vulture has been added on top of the figure since the original painting was done.
See more of the cop and the pink balloon on this post - including work on the demolition of the building.
The last remaining one we saw was this smaller painting on Church Street just north of The Esplanade. Torontoist tells a great story where the owner was about to paint over the graffiti when he was told how much they could be worth. He soon covered it over in plexiglass for protection - and it is still there to be viewed and appreciated.
See the state of the Banksy art in the alley in early 2011 on my blog post here.
2013 update: There was a report of Banksy being arrested which turned out to be false. From the Museum of Hoaxes "A press release posted yesterday on PRLog.com announced that not only had Banksy been arrested (on charges of vandalism, conspiracy, racketeering and counterfeiting), but that his identity had been revealed—his real name supposedly being "Paul William Horner." The press release was a hoax, but a number of media outlets ran with the story before cottoning on to the deception. A humor site, IYWIB.com, appears to be behind the hoax."