There is a way to determine to what extent an artist is a celebrity: his work has to be much more famous than he is, to the extent that it becomes an icon. This could apply, for example, to the two angels painted by Rafael, Leonardo's Mona Lisa, Picasso's Guernica and, nowadays, the vandal with his face covered about to throw a bunch of flowers, by the artist known as Banksy.
"Banksy is probably the best-known contemporary artist in the world," said Alexander Nachkebiya, curator of Banksy. The Art of Protest, the exhibition that opens at La Térmica on 24 May. With more than 40 works by the enigmatic street artist who jealously hides his identity, it includes iconic series such as the portraits of Kate Moss in the style of Warhol's Marilyn, the bulldog which became the artist's hallmark and a serigraph of the series Girl with Balloon, like the one destroyed by the artist a few months ago at Sotheby's.
Nachkebiya said this exhibition differs from the one which is about to close in Madrid and takes a look at the works which have passed from graffiti to the collective imagination.
"People always ask me what the difference is between urban art and vandalism. If you see a picture on a wall and the image touches your heart and soul and makes you think, it's urban art. If it has no effect on you, then it isn't. That's why I am absolutely convinced that Banksy is an extraordinary artist," he said about the exhibition, which has been organised in collaboration with SUR and will remain open until 29 September.
The Art of Protest includes sculptures, installations, videos and photos. The works are on loan from international private collections and are being shown in Spain for the first time.
"Banksy never comes to exhibitions of his work because he insists on anonymity and wants to remain outside the system and market for art," Nachkebiya pointed out.
"Banksy is a cultural phenomenon. His work is very attractive to all types of people, and we hope this exhibition will be as well received as others that have taken place in other countries," he says.