Brainwashing the nation

[slideshow_deploy id=’8065′]

Who is to say what is art and what is not? Cubism, Expressionism, Surrealism, sure. But what about Street Art? What started as an underground revolt, has somehow filtered through the cracks right into broad daylight. Street Art previously only took place in the dead of night, with the thrill of being caught driving artists to the rooftops. Fast-forward a handful of years and we see some of the biggest auction houses in the world selling pieces of street art for the price of a house. 2008 heralded the release of Street Art documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop – a film that followed budding camera man Thierry Guetta and his obsession with capturing street art as it happened. His pursuit of British street artist Banksy, resulted in the camera being turned back on him.

What started out as a film about Banksy and his cohorts, cleverly became a film about Thierry, also known as Mr Brainwash. Mr Brainwash has since had six, extremely successful shows in America, and has decided to grace the shores of Europe- starting in London. Glass magazine caught up with Mr Brainwash in his show space to find out about the newest face of this phenomenon.

For those who might not know, who is Mr Brainwash? Where did the name come from?
Mr Brainwash is just a human being, simple. I used the name in the early nineties, taking existing branding and twisting it. Nike logos that said, “Just Do It” – I said, “Just Did It”, or “Toys R Us”, became “Boys R Nuts”. One day I ran into some problems so I decided to stop and I started filming instead, so I put the name on the side. Then when I started doing street art, I had to come up with a name, and Mr Brainwash was perfect. The longer I have the name, the more it makes sense with what I do.

Who are your biggest influences?
I have a few. Francis Bacon, Magritte, Pascin, Banksy, Picasso, Jeff Koons, Jackson Pollock, Warhol. It’s not only about their art, it’s about them. It’s about the personality. I believe that anybody who really wants to do it, can. It’s all about being strong, being positive. Nothing can stop you. If you do something from your heart, it will be a success.

What inspired this new exhibition? Is there a running theme throughout it?
There isn’t really a theme. It is a mixture of old stuff; new pieces for the Olympics; new pieces for the Queen; and a couple of pieces made only for the show here, as it’s the first time that Europe has seen Mr Brainwash. I’m very proud of putting the Queen on the side of the building- it must be the biggest Queen ever put on the streets of London. I don’t know if they are going to like it but it’s very positive. She looks beautiful, and it has a beautiful statement on it.

Is there a particular piece that is your favourite?
I don’t have favourites. My favourite is the one I’m going to make next!

How do you think London will react to your work?
I don’t mind. Whatever they think, I’m here, I’m doing it. It’s done. The reaction isn’t going to change anything. The exhibition will not close.

What has been your career highlight so far?
Working on making a film for 12 years without knowing the outcome, then being nominated for an academy award. The film is still going! People now say that the film is like a way of life. It has a real message behind it. Having six shows in America and now London – it’s a fairytale! David Guetta performed in this space last week. He really enjoyed it and would love to be involved in the future.

What is the future for Mr Brainwash? Do you intend to keep exhibiting long-term?
My plan is to keep following my heart and to keep trying to help people around me – selling my art to help people. There is no limit. This is something I want to do and I won’t stop making it happen. Now that I have started in London I might do other places in Europe like Russia, Italy or Germany. I have done six shows in America but I might do something in New York with Sotheby’s, in their building this year. I have been working with Sotheby’s, Christies, Phillips. I take chances and do things differently, like coming to London and taking over a building that is 200, 000 square feet. To be here during the Olympics is a big risk, but I feel like there are no risks in life. You do it because you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. It is better to do, than to regret.

Do you have a message for any aspiring street artists?
Never give up. Believe in yourself and follow your dreams. Don’t listen to anyone. Don’t listen to the press or friends that are negative around you. People think they know, but what I know is that they don’t know! That’s what I know. I am 46 years old and I know, that I don’t know either.

Do you still film?
I film. Not like I used to. I am very involved in the art. I am very passionate about everything I do. I was very passionate when I had the camera in my hand and now I am very passionate about making shows, doing art, and making things happen. You cannot think about many different things at once, you have to focus on one.

Are you still in touch with Banksy?
Yes. We are very good friends. We shared a lot when making the film, and the trust between us will be there forever. He is a very clever person- turning the camera on me. But he trusts me, and I trust him.

by Sarah Tweed

About The Author

Related Posts