What We Do In Life Echoes In Eternity: Graffiti Art Tells It Like It Is
“Some people criticize me for using sources that are a bit low brow (this quote is from ‘Gladiator’) but you know what? ‘I’m just going to use that hostility to make me stronger, not weaker’ as Kelly Rowland said on the X Factor,” reads his website.
Like many people, I have been very excited about the graffiti artist Banksy spontaneously showing his work in New York this month in random paintings around the city he calls “Better Out Than In.”
In fact, word got around so quickly that Steve Hart, my neighbor who leads our FREE Monday night meditation group at my studio, used the Banksy piece with the quote from “Gladiator” on Facebook Monday to remind everybody to come to sit with us.
Banksy is one of my personal heroes. I first learned about him through the Oscar-nominated documentary, Exit Through The Gift Shop. You can easily watch the movie through Netflix even if you only have the $7.99 low-tier monthly subscription. I have watched the movie twice, I like it so much. In addition to Banksy, Exit Through The Gift Shop also stars graffiti artists Shepard Fairey, who created and now regrets the Barack Obama “Hope” campaign poster, and Thierry Guetta.
I love the way Banksy thinks, which is outside the box all the time. This is the essence of what it actually takes to be happy and healthy, I think, as opposed to what people THINK will make them happy.
According to a 2007 USA Today article, “Eighty-one percent of 18- to 25-year-olds surveyed in a Pew Research Center poll released today said getting rich is their generation’s most important or second-most-important life goal; 51% said the same about being famous.”
In an age where so many people want to become rich or famous or both, Banksy has become world famous by closely guarding his identity and recently selling his priceless art in Central Park in New York for $60 a piece.
Banksy also gave The Village Voice an exclusive interview, telling his publicist that he promised the exclusive because he “feels an affinity with people who provide quality content for free on street corners.”
“There is absolutely no reason for doing this show at all,” Banksy told The Village Voice. “I know street art can feel increasingly like the marketing wing of an art career, so I wanted to make some art without the price tag attached. There’s no gallery show or book or film. It’s pointless. Which hopefully means something.”
He goes on to tell The Village Voice:
“I started painting on the street because it was the only venue that would give me a show,” he writes. “Now I have to keep painting on the street to prove to myself it wasn’t a cynical plan. Plus it saves money on having to buy canvases.
“But there’s no way round it—commercial success is a mark of failure for a graffiti artist. We’re not supposed to be embraced in that way. When you look at how society rewards so many of the wrong people, it’s hard not to view financial reimbursement as a badge of self-serving mediocrity.
“It seems to me the best way to make money out of art is not to even try,” he adds in a subsequent exchange. “It doesn’t take much to be a successful artist—all you need to do is dedicate your entire life to it. The thing people most admired about Picasso wasn’t his work/life balance.”
Looking at Banksy’s art makes me ridiculously happy. He tells it like it is.