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Weston Super Mare, 1999


Weston Super Mare, 1999
Acrylic on canvas
76.5 x 76.5 cm (30×30 inches)
Tagged “BANKSY”, lower right
Bonhams London: 22 October 2020
GBP 747,062 / USD 979,151

Severnshed, Bristol, 2000

Weston Super Mare is a seaside town near Banksy’s native Bristol and the location of his 2015 theme park Dismaland. Best known as the site of the once celebrated Tropicana Lido, closed since 2000, Weston-Super-Mare is not the obvious choice for a new amusement park and so it would have immediately appealed to Banksy’s post-modern sense of irony.
Banksy, Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall
This is also a political choice; by celebrating the hinterland and indeed the degraded, disenfranchised figure at the heart of the composition of the present work, Banksy is using his platform to drag focus away from traditional art world contexts. Always a self-confessed outsider, so much of Banksy’s art exists to poke fun at traditional hierarchies and, in light of his astonishing success, also at himself. If everyone is fair game for mockery in Banksy’s world then no one is more so than he himself and in that sense the figure on the bench can be seen as a self-portrait, revealing his own sense of ordinariness and feeding into the theme of being an imposter that features so often in his work.
Weston Super Mare can therefore be seen as a work of searing honesty and self-revelation; a very personal painting that gives a clear, if very rare, insight into the artist’s background and personality. Weston Super Mare, in Somerset, is where Banksy created Dismaland, a “family theme park unsuitable for children”. The artist presented new works and funded the construction of the exhibition himself. The show featured 58 artists known for making art with strong social and political commentary, including Damien Hirst.

Banksy released a print based on this visual in 2003, but he added some oncoming danger from the right side in the form of an oversized and black bandsaw moving towards the man on the bench, without him noticing.

Weston Super Mare, 2003
Screen-print in colors on paper
Edition: 750 (150 signed)