Admiration at the clever idea (although even the person who first introduced me to Banksy, M. Beauchamp, immediately identified his indebtedness to Blek le Rat) has given way to fatigue at his one-dimensional and pandering work:
Banksy is a talented graphic designer with a flair for self-promotion, no more or less. He is not an artist. His work lacks the breadth and ambiguity to carry multiple interpretations vital to serious art. Banksy makes one-liners that are mildly amusing, sometimes clever, but never more than one-liners. There is a place for comedy and satire, but mistaking that for art or insightful social critique is foolishness. He is an equivalent to Ben Elton — a middling-ability trendy comedian who fills an undemanding niche in British popular culture. If Banksy intended to dupe British society into taking him half-seriously he has been depressingly successful at it.
The essential problem is not that Banksy holds unexamined prejudices or that he is mediocre as an artist; it is that he is lazy. He never truly challenges us because we can predict his positions on all topics. He cannot surprise us because he never surprises himself. He seems to have not learned anything about the world or himself during his almost 30-year career, which is surely a pity because even if Banksy will never be an artist of lasting stature, he might at least have grown as a person.It is symbolic of a lack of public critical thinking that Banksy has grown so famous without his art being repeatedly exposed as not only shallow and conventional but derivative and occasionally plagiarised. Banksy — cosy culture warrior and peddler of pedestrian homilies — is truly a figurehead for our era.
- Alexander Adams, Banksy and the triumph of banality