From Warhol to Banksy
Mr. Brainwash, Spray Can (Yellow), 2013, steel spray can with spray paint, ed. 166/700

From Warhol to Banksy

Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna, BC - To Oct 16

by Michael Turner

Euro-Western art history is no longer the history of record when it comes to the who, what, when, where and why of symbolic objects and gestures. Although this decommissioning owes something to our efforts to decolonize our institutions, rid them of theirhierarchies and the sexisms, racisms, homophobias and ableisms they enable, it is arguably one of Euro-Western art history’s greatest movements that began this work. The movement is Pop Art, which domi-nated the 1960s and remains an enduring presence.

North American art audiences are familiar with Pop Art strategies in the work of contemporary Indigenous artists such as Sonny Assu (Frosted Flakes as Treaty Flakes, 2006) and Brian Jungen (Nike trainers transfigured into Northwest Coast–style masks). But it is England’s Banksy who has taken Pop Art beyond Andy Warhol’s high/low conflation of consumergoods to the surfaces of private spaces in which those goods – and the attitudes they shape – are literally and figuratively reproduced. The contrasting approaches between Warhol and Banksy provide this exhibition with its strongest proposition: a 3 x 3 grid of Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe screen prints in relation to a horizontal row of Banksy’s spray-paint graffiti stencils.

In addition to Warhol and Banksy, this exhibition of over 120 works (all on loan from the Paul and Tracy Mitchell Collection) features art by Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann, Takashi Murakami and Mr. Brainwash. It also features an extensive public program that includes lectures by graffiti archivist and author Adam Melnyk (September 22) and author Patrick Moore (October 13). For those who can’t make it out, click on Jon Davies’ KAG-commissioned lecture “Andy Warhol and Queer Culture,” available on the gallery website.

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