If you’ve seen the excellent documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop then you’re familiar with a UK street artist known as Banksy. He is noted for enhancing streets, walls and bridges with stencilled dark humor. Since the early 1990s, Banksy has been at odds with the UK government. One man’s art is his government’s graffiti.
With a piece on display at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, has Banksy finally gone establishment? The work is included in an exhibition of 17th Century old masters. The artist used this opportunity to make a religious statement.
The work is called “Cardinal Sin.” It’s a reproduction of an 18th C. stone bust. Banksy sawed its face off and replaced its features with a series of small, multi-colored bathroom tiles. The effect is similar to the pixelized view many UK papers use to depict accused child molesters. With the use of a 18th C. bust, Banksy suggests the scandal pre-dates those from the reign of John Paul II by a couple centuries.
The statue is on loan indefinitely. Its debut was accompanied by a statement from the artist:
“I love everything about the Walker Gallery – the Old Masters, the contemporary art, the rude girl in the cafe. And when I found out Mr Walker built it with beer money it became my favourite gallery. The statue? I guess you could call it a Christmas present. At this time of the year, it’s easy to forget the true meaning of Christianity – the lies, the corruption, the abuse.”
The public may have a short memory but the Catholic Church rape victims are not as lucky. Fortunately, Banksy was never one to tolerate complacency. While he may be featured with old masters, it’s clear he’ll never comfort the establishment.