Monday, May 7, 2018

Toronto lands the North American premiere of The Art of Banksy

Story by Allan Tong

The world's most famous--and reclusive--street artist hits Toronto.

From June 13-July 11 The Art of Banksy will showcase more than 80 pieces of his artwork worth more than $35 million at 213 Sterling Road in Toronto's west end.

Curator and Banksy's ex-agent Steve Lazarides said at today's announcement that over 30 pieces will differ from last year's show in Amsterdam. "It's a constantly evolving show." A film, shown in Amsterdam, may be included in Toronto.

In addition to Amsterdam, the Art of Banksy has already graced Melbourne, Tel Aviv and Auckland, explained Michel Boersma, a senior vice-president at Live Nation. Corey Ross, president and CEO of Starvox Exhibits, added that Toronto not only beat out Athens and Stockholm as the next host, but is also the first North American city to present this show. Starvox Exhibits and Live Nation are co-presenting the Art of Banksy.

Included in the Art of Banksy will be Balloon Girl (top), Flag Wall (above) and Laugh Now (below).

Will Banksy be installing anything on the streets of Toronto? "I very much doubt it," curator and Banksy's former agent Steve Lazarides told ChinoKino. Nor will the exhibit include any street pieces, which Lazarides vehemently opposes. "These pieces were made for the cities they were put in."

Left to right: Corey Ross, Michel Boersma and Steve Lazarides (photo: Allan Tong)
And no, Banksy will not appear in Toronto.

For more than a decade, the street artist known only as Banksy, has been posting his politically charged artwork mostly on underpasses, bridges and walls across the streets of London, notably in Shoreditch and Hoxton. This guerilla art has raised accusations of vandalism as enterprising vendors literally peel his work off public walls and frame it for sale. Meanwhile, Banksy's art has been shown in many galleries and has commanded hundreds-of-thousands of dollars at auctions. His identity is secret, though he is English and male.

The venue of the Toronto exhibition is key. Sterling Road is rapidly transforming from a remote industrial area by the railroad tracks (known as the Junction) into a vibrant, artistic hub. For example, MOCCA, the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art, will open there this summer.

Demand should be heavy. Only 50,000 tickets will go on sale starting May 12 at It won't be cheap: $35 each, and there will be timed tickets and general admission ones without a set time. Any remaining tickets will be sold on standby.

And there will be a gift shop at the exit.