Last night I went to go see "Exit Through the Gift Shop." A friend recommended the film and I saw the reviews. I knew I would love it but I never guessed how inspiring and thought provoking the film would be. It is the story of Thierry Guetta, an eccentric French "film maker" who befriended and filmed some of the most famous and elusive street artists. Beginning this journey by following his cousin, Invader, he traveled the world following such amazing artits as Shepard Fairey, Neckface, and Swoon. His filming spans over a decade and we learn of his obsession with finding the infamous Banksy! Much to his suprise, and completely by chance, he does get his wish. And slowly but surely, he gains Banksy's trust and friendship.
I can only imagine how inspiring it must have been to follow all of these prolific artists and how much it would make anyone want to do what they do. Well, after a scary attempt at putting thousands of hours of footage into a 90 minute film, Banksy sent him on his way back to Los Angeles to "do some art" while he edited the footage himself. After six months of what one can only compare to Warhol's Factory, Thierry (now Mr. Brainwash) set out to have the biggest street artist show which he called "Life is Beautiful."
Half of this film is an amazing documentary of the unseen underground world of outsider art, but then we really learn what Banksy had to say with the making of this film.
Mr Brainwash was never an artist. He was the equivalent of a tag artist groupie. Taking from other artists and conceptualizing his piece, he handed off his ideas to hired artists who created his work. With his amazing, LITERALLY OVERNIGHT SUCCESS, it begs to ask the infamous question: what is art? And what makes someone an artist? Is it internal or the external world (art collectors, gallery owners, etc) that decide who is an artist and who is not?
Leaving this film inspired me to create and truly sit down and think why I paint what I paint. Why do I paint at all? I paint in oil but all I wanted to do was grab some Montana GOLD and a stencil and find a wall!
Is Mr Brainwash an insult to artists who have been working for years (decades even) to become the artist they are now? Is he an insult to art collectors and dealers? Is he completely insane or a total genius? On the car ride home, there was a debate and the wheels in my head just kept on spinning. Each question lead to another question instead of an answer. But it was not frustrating. It is what art is about. Banksy created something amazing here and for that I thank him. As for Mr Brainwash...well...I guess I'll have to let that thought marinate a little longer.