Mr. Brainwash: A Collector’s Guide
5 things you need to know about the provocative figure in the world of street art, Mr. Brainwash.
Works featured on offer at West Chelsea Contemporary.
A provocative figure in the world of street art, Mr. Brainwash practices an irreverent brand of appropriation characterized by the use of copyrighted images from history, popular culture, and art history. The artist subtly alters the picture or its context, mischievously undermining the tone of the source material.
Read on below to discover what you need to know about the iconic artist, Mr. Brainwash.
- Mr. Brainwash is a pseudonym for Thierry Guetta. Before ever being Mr. Brainwash, Thierry was a man with a camera and an interest in infiltrating and documenting the illicit practices of street artists. It wasn’t until being directly exposed to the scene and personally meeting the artists, where Banksy encouraged him to partake, that Thierry transformed himself into street artist Mr. Brainwash. He was partially inspired to go by a pseudonym through his cousin, the Parisian artist known as Space Invader, but the origin of the name stems from his belief that art is primarily about brainwashing the public.
- Mr. Brainwash got his start after being the main figure in the Banksy directed film, Exit Through the Gift Shop. A major turning point for Mr. Brainwash was his groundbreaking footage from the widely-acclaimed documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop. The film holds 29 nominations and 24 wins and was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010. It contains footage of many of the world’s most infamous graffiti artists at work. This Academy-nominated film demonstrates the evolution of the street art movement with Mr. Brainwash, who, alongside Banksy, introduced this art to the rest of the world. The documentary follows the styles of some of the world’s most prolific street artists, all while an amateur filmmaker makes his foray to the art world.
- There are conspiracies about if Mr. Brainwash is real. As quite a provocative figure of the art world, whose artistic career is crazy enough to seem like a performance, Mr. Brainwash is believed to be an elaborate prank devised by Banksy. After Exit Through The Gift Shop debuted, many speculated that Mr. Brainwash’s art is really Banksy’s and that the artist is simply a character he created. Although nothing has been confirmed, the conspiracy is likely false, but the sheer fact that Mr. Brainwash is crazy enough for these questions to even emerge is baffling.
- Disregarding the notion of rules, his work hinges on the idea that anything is possible in his practice. Mr. Brainwash’s artworks are the perfect blend between pop and street art with his appropriation of iconic images rendered in a vibrant palette. Mr. Brainwash’s work features both famous figures from history and characters from fiction. Using visual elements from pop’s past and raw components from his street art beginnings, Brainwash creates a pioneering contemporary style. Swimming upstream and being unlike any other artist of his time with his interpretation of pop art, Mr. Brainwash’s style has often been compared to that of Andy Warhol. His shows are journeys: self-guided tours through a pop culture wonderland, colorful and beautiful. His artwork is a pure sensory experience and like so many of the subjects depicted in Mr. Brainwash’s art, his works are timeless, reflecting human aspirations and the voice screaming, “anything is possible.”
- Mr. Brainwash prioritizes giving back to the community. He has donated artwork in support of the Los Angeles LGBT center, created commemorative 9/11 murals to honor the victims, and partnered with Product RED to raise AIDS awareness. Mr. Brainwash gives support to organizations such as the Prince’s Trust for the benefit of vulnerable youth. He met with former First Lady Michelle Obama in support of her organization, “Let Girls Learn,” which helps adolescent girls attend and complete school. He also met privately with Pope Francis in Rome to raise funds for Scholas, the Pope’s personal foundation to serve the youth of the world.
“Art has no walls. Anybody can be an artist. Art has no rules. There’s no manual.”
What’s on now at WCC:
West Chelsea Contemporary’s nearly 8,000 square-foot gallery offers the opportunity to highlight work on a monumental scale. From 16-foot originals by RETNA and Cey Adams to colossal sculptural work—including a larger than life mixed media shark and painted aluminum spaceman—the gallery is activated by art world giant’s not only in a metaphorical sense.
By contemplating ground-breaking movements from the past six decades, Icons & Vandals allows viewers to rediscover and redefine the art world’s most iconic and contentious house-hold names. These artists have left their mark on the development and progression of contemporary art by subverting the norms of their own time. Through this show it becomes clear that these two labels are not mutually exclusive but in fact ingrained in their interconnectedness.
Works from ICONS & VANDALS will be on display and for sale at West Chelsea Contemporary in beginning May 15.
Reach out today to inquire or acquire.