Bunch of Flowers, 2020
Spray-paint on acetate, in artist’s frame
85.7 x 71 x 3.2 cm (33 3/4 x 28 x 1 1/4 inches)
Signed ‘Banksy’ (lower right), inscribed ‘For Trevor’ (lower left)
Christie’s London: 25 March 2021
GBP 250,000 / USD 344,000
PART OF THE PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT GOODWILL IN ACTION TO PREVENT SUICIDE
Painted in 2020, Bunch of Flowers is a reinterpretation of one of the artist’s most iconic images. In this specific work, Banksy has stenciled a bouquet of flowers whose wrapping evanesces against the opaque acetate ground; it is a unique work and the gilded frame was selected by the artist. The cropped composition recalls the artist’s recurrent Love is in the Air or Flower Thrower motif, an image which first appeared in Jerusalem shortly after the West Bank Wall was constructed in 2000. Here, however, the focus rests on the blossoms of the ‘Flower Thrower,’ who hurls not stones or a Molotov Cocktail, but flowers in his quest for peace.
The use of stencils in Bunch of Flowers is characteristic of Banksy, who was first inspired by their potential after a confrontation with the police at the age of eighteen. Fleeing their pursuit one evening, he hid beneath a garbage truck where the outlined lettering on the side of the makeshift shelter caught his eye.
“As I lay there listening to the cops on the tracks,’ he recalled, ‘I realized I had to cut my painting time in half or give it up altogether. I was staring straight up at the stenciled plate on the bottom of the fuel tank when I realized I could just copy that style and make each letter three feet high.”
Soon thereafter, stenciled images began to appear on the sides of buildings, trains, and other public walls, first across Bristol, where the artist had grown up, and then in locales as far flung as Sydney and Timbuktu. By the turn of the millennium, Banksy’s biting, often political imagery had begun to bring him international acclaim.
“Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody could draw wherever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colors and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall – it’s wet.”
Banksy’s desire to confront the world’s injustices through street art imbues his graffiti with an activist spirit. Through his distinctive visual language – a mix of satire and ambiguity, all rendered in sleek matte paint – the artist refuses to stand idly by the wayside. Indeed, much of the joy of Banksy’s art is the way in which it melds aesthetic considerations with social engagement. In doing so, he has solidified his place as both a well-recognized artist and a vocal activist, but at his heart, Banksy remains an idealist who sees street art as an uplifting force.