“You paint 100 chimpanzees and they still call you a guerrilla artist” – Banksy

Banksy, Devolved Parliament, 2009, oil on canvas, 267 446 cms (Est US$1.8 - US$2.4 million)

Last week was dominated in London by the Brexit process, faux hysteria and virtue signalling that appears now to be an integral part of the process.

The thought occurred to me that a tribe of Baboons had much in common with any political class. When into my hands popped a note from Sotheby’s.

Talk about serendipity! “Devolved Parliament (2009)” is to go on display ahead of an auction on the evening of 3 October. Alex Branczik , Sotheby’s European head of Contemporary Art encapsulated the state we are when he said, “Banksy is a modern day Voltaire confronting the burning issues of the day with caustic wit and biting satire, but with a lightness of touch and a visual irony that distils society’s most complicated political situations into just one deceptively simple image that is readily shareable in our social media age.

Regardless of where you sit in the Brexit debate, there’s no doubt that this work is more pertinent now than it has ever been, capturing unprecedented levels of political chaos and confirming Banksy as the satirical polemicist of our time.”

“Devolved Parliament” will be exhibited at Sotheby’s; a pleasant walk from the Palace of Westminster. I suggest a walk that takes you through St James Park , across the Mall and up the hill, cross Piccadilly and then down New Bond Street and so to Sotheby’s. You could even stop for a cup of tea in Fortnum & Masons along the way. The exhibition will run from 28 September through to 3 October, coincidentally ahead of the next Brexit Day.

The painting is some 13 feet wide and the largest canvas of the anonymous street artist. Banksy’s current record at auction is US$1,870,000 made at Sotheby’s New York in 2008 for the work titled “Keep it Spotless”. His “Laugh Now (2002)” is some six metres long. The painting shows a row of subservient apes wearing aprons carrying the inscription “Laugh now but one day we’ll be in charge”. The motif has since become one of Banksy’s most widely circulated images.

The exhibition will be followed by the evening Sale in which “Devolved Parliament (2009)” is expected to sell for an estimated US$1.8 to US$2.4 million. Just one year ago and on the 5 October 2018 Banksy’s “Girl with a balloon” auto destructed as the gavel struck the to mark the sale to be transformed into “Love is in the Bin”. A first, being the first time that an artwork was created during the Sale. I shall be planning to watch the bidding on line. Should be fun.

BA is flying again though the next strike is planned for the 27th September and the airline is reported to be cancelling flights already ahead of the date, it is said so as to avoid paying compensation to affected passengers.

However as they say there are other airlines and of course ferries and Eurostar. Happily another artistic exhibition opened last week with fanfares and positive reviews “William Blake” at the Tate Britain has already drawn critical acclaim and is declared “UNMISSABLE” and as its running till 2 February 2020 plenty of time to catch the exhibition and much else that London offers.

Nick Horne, London, England

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