While some lazier blogs have been misreporting things (as the media notoriously does), here’s what really going on at a gallery in Germany where an artwork by Banksy has been “rediscovered” and uncovered beneath layers of paint. While one might initially suspect that this is a publicity stunt by a gallery (my first thoughts were: the piece could be a fake, or even if it’s real, it’s most likely a ploy by a crass gallery owner to get people in the door, and the wall will quickly be sold like so many Banksy street pieces and the gallery had just been waiting for the right time to do this), it’s not that simple. In fact, the room is installation by Brad Downey, titled What Lies Beneath.
Here’s what is known about the artwork: The Banksy piece seen the above photo is real and was painted in 2003 for the Backjumps Live show, Brad instructed art restorers to uncover the piece which was hidden beneath years of paint, Brad got the rest of the walls painted red, Brad got sections of the other walls in the room removed, Brad lists the materials as “restored/extracted ‘Banksy’ Installation (originally painted in 2003 for the exhibition Backjumps- Volume:1), red paint,” the piece is part of a show curated by Adrian Nabi called Do Not Think! and Adrian Nabi curated the Backjumps show.
That said, Brad Downey is a clever artist. In fact, one of the only street artists that I suspect might be more clever than Brad would have to be Banksy. For that reason, I suspect that there is some mystery yet to be uncovered about this installation. Especially given Brad’s use of the word “extracted” in the description of What Lies Beneath and also the text on Banksy’s piece, “Every picture tells a lie!”, I’m curious to know more about those segments that Brad has removed from the room. I’d say there’s definitely more to this story than meets the eye (maybe Brad has extracted a few Banksy’s to throw up on eBay), but maybe the installation is telling a lie. While of course many blogs and newspapers seem to be excited about the new (to them) Banksy, according to one German newspaper, “[Brad’s] work was not primarily about Banksy’s work, but to criticize the art market.”
You can see What Lies Beneath for yourself at the Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien gallery in Berlin through October 29th.
Photos courtesy of Brad Downey