“They say graffiti frightens people and is symbolic of decline in society, but graffiti is only dangerous in the mind of three types of people;
politicians, advertising executives and graffiti writers” – Banksy (Banksy Wall and Piece, 2006 p. 4)
I’m sure you’ve all heard of the street artist Banksy and seen some of his thought provoking work before. Now, whether you approve of his style of art, graffiti (yes I can visualise some people shaking their heads at the thought of it) his works undoubtedly show amazing skill and talent considering the lengths he goes to produce them.
My personal favourite of his would have to be Flower Thrower 2003. As a huge fan of Banksy I could easily go on and on about this image however I’m going to make it short and sweet.
Flower Thrower is a simple yet powerful image. Banksy has captured elements of social activism and politics and compacted them in one image.
Here is a summary of denotations we see upon first viewing the work:
- The style of the work is a large scale graffiti stencil print.
- The subject appears to be an adult man fully clothed in black and white. He is wearing a backwards cap and some sort of bandana gear over his lower face. His expression is dull yet his eye gaze is towards something he may be aiming for ahead.
- The position of the subject is slightly leaned back in a stance with his arms spaced out to throw a colourful bouquet of flowers.
- The bouquet of flowers are the only element with colour in the image which creates a stark contrast against the monotonous stencil of a man.
Audiences are able to view Flower Thrower with any type of open interpretation. Sure, you can perceive the image literally (a man simply about to throw a bouquet of flowers) however more elaborate connotations of the work can be formed when we are made aware of its location.
The image is located nearby a border wall in Palestine, Jerusalem. The Middle East is commonly associated with war, riot and third world injustice. Judging by the subjects stance and spread arms we are signified that he is a rioter arming himself for attack. Banksy has substituted what could have been assumedly been a weapon for a bouquet of flowers, implying that there is a chance for peace and hope instead of weapons and destruction.
On a different note the image can be perceived satirically. Viewers could come to the conclusion that Banksy is mocking rioters by replacing weapons with something much weaker – flowers. The fact that the artwork is graffiti as well could leave viewers with the assumption that the work has no value, but rather an extension of vandalism with poor taste of subject matter.
Overall each to their own when deciphering Flower Thrower. The artwork tackles a political concern and I am impressed by Banksy’s ability to take on such a serious subject matter in a conflicting political area.
Check out more of Banksy’s work here!
Banksy, 2006, Banksy Wall and Piece, Century, United Kingdom.
Images are from:
Banksy, 2003, Flower Thrower, stencil graffiti, Palestine, viewed 21 March 2015 <www.arrestedmotion.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/01020139000000.j>
Banksy, 2003, Flower Thrower, stencil graffiti, Palestine, viewed 21 March 2015 <www.whatsonyourwall.com/banksy-graffiti-25/banksy-flower-thrower-size-colour-white-10252-12397_medium.jpg>