Back-to-back Banksy exhibits in Toronto divide fans of secretive street artist

Back-to-back Banksy exhibits featuring works by the secretive street artist are unfolding in Toronto.

But observers are torn over the way his subversive messages are being portrayed.

Neither show is endorsed by the urban art darling, known for cheeky stencils and illicit, politically charged graffiti that often take aim at the establishment.

The first is a free, open-air show in the city’s tony Yorkville Village, where two pieces have been installed amid a luxury retail strip home to designer brands that include Chanel, Tiffany and Prada.

The second is set to take over a factory space in an up-and-coming neighbourhood billed as an emerging art hub, however, many are balking at the $35 entry fee being charged by promoters Live Nation and Starvox Exhibits.

The North American premiere of The Art of Banksy, beginning Wednesday and running to July 11, is a $35-million exhibit of 80 original works curated by Banksy’s former agent Steve Lazarides.

It’s set to include famous images Balloon Girl, in which a young girl is letting go of a heart-shaped balloon; Flag Wall, described as an “urbanized take on the famous picture of soldiers raising the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima;” and Laugh Now —words emblazoned on a sandwich board slung over a monkey.


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