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Phillips opens a selling exhibition in Hong Kong dedicated to Banksy
Banksy, Avon and Somerset Constabulary (Pink), 2018. Image courtesy of Phillips.

HONG KONG.- Phillips’ exhibition, Banksy: Who’s Laughing Now?, transforms the Hong Kong galleries in the St. George’s Building from 17 November to 7 December 2018. Presenting 27 works by the anonymous street art revolution known as Banksy, the selling exhibition includes significant and previously unseen artworks. Ranging from prints to unique works, the exhibition presents a variety of works at a range of price points. The exhibition coincides with Phillips’ Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art on 25 November in Hong Kong, which will offer two portraits of Abraham Lincoln, executed after the series of New Orleans murals that Banksy created in 2008 as commentaries on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Banksy’s work of the past two decades has drawn a litany of both praise and controversy, and nowhere is his simultaneous appeal and notoriety more present than in Laugh Now, 2002. Comprised of his signature means of urban expression – namely board spray-painted with his own stencil designs – the present work perfectly encapsulates Banksy’s modus operandi while conjuring the dark thematic elements that underlie such a comic piece. Ten monkeys stand side-by-side, full frontal and unashamed to display their sandwich-board messages, with six communicating, “Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge.”

Banksy’s history as a street artist and his efforts to conceal his identity make his artistic figures his only interactive surrogates. Bearing this in mind, the monkeys upon the panel in Laugh Now not only assume an anarchistic quality – promising full revenge upon their rise to power – but also make for a fascinating study into the future of street art. And, as his exhibition spaces shift from urban alleyways to galleries, Banksy paints a fascinating commentary on the current state of contemporary art. Indeed, the art of Banksy was once perceived as nothing more than vandalism with style, yet he is now recognised as the world’s foremost street artist. In terms of his clairvoyance, perhaps no work is more prescient than Laugh Now.

Miety Heiden, Deputy Chairman and Head of Private Sales: “The works highlighted in this exhibition illustrate the artistic achievements of Banksy over the last two decades. A visionary and trailblazer at the forefront of street art since the 1990s, Banksy has dedicated his career to challenging society’s perception of fine art versus street art. This unprecedented exhibition will include the artist’s six-metre wide Laughing Now, and Girl with Balloon, AP Gold, among other iconic works. Banksy has been propelled to the forefront of today’s art market and we look forward to sharing these works with both new and longstanding admirers of his work.”

Banksy first turned to graffiti as a miserable fourteen year old disillusioned with school. Inspired by the thriving graffiti community in his home city, Bristol, Banksy's works began appearing on trains and walls in 1993, and by 2001 his blocky, spray-painted works had cropped up all over the United Kingdom, becoming instantly recognisable. His aesthetic is clean and instantly readable due to his knack for reducing complex political and social statements to simple visual elements. His graffiti, paintings and screenprints use whimsy and humour to satirically critique war, capitalism, hypocrisy and greed, all of which are explored in the works to be included in this important exhibition.

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November 20, 2018

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