BANKSY: SUBVERTING LEGAL AUTHORITY
Banksy has a complex relationship with the art world and the law. His works make use of cynical subversion and humour to criticize aspects of contemporary society, often the law or those who wield its authority. In his 2009 work Devolved Parliament, a satire of the UK House of Commons, Banksy calls out and mocks the state of British politics by replacing all the human politicians in the painting with chimpanzees. Whilst the point of the work is easily grasped, when one analyses its details, their meaning and the context of the work from the perspective of legal iconology, it becomes clear that Devolved Parliament is deceptively complex. The impressively sized oil on canvas, done in the style of history paintings of the neoclassical age, manages to grab the viewer’s attention. At the same time, by using chimpanzees engaged in a legislative face-off, it is clear that the work is legal and political satire. Moreover, the work itself has an interesting history, and fits into his greater oeuvre of works that criticize authority (or ‘the law’). As one of the most influential and accessible contemporary artists, Banksy’s provoking messages are able to reach an enormous audience and raise public awareness.
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