Paris Fashion Week is bringing all the hot celebrities out of hiding — including the most clandestine of characters: street artist Banksy. Okay, so he didn’t come out per se, but he did manage to make his way there to create some art in Paris for the first time ever. It’s surprising that a popular European city like Paris would be yet-to-be visited by the legend of the scene, but the City of Love somehow has evaded the artist’s paint can up until now. The art includes three murals that tackle the issues of racism, antisemitism, and immigration (and probably much more than we are able to understand, as Banksy always find a way to go over our heads with symbolism and metaphor).
The first of the stenciled murals features a little black girl standing on a wooden block among some refuse, painting a sort of damask, pink floral pattern over a giant swastika, looking over her shoulder as if she is watching her back. At the base of the block is a pile of unidentifiable trash, except for a teddy bear that she must have dropped and two empty pink spray paint cans. The girl is losing her innocence to pay attention to more important matters like standing up for herself and others against discrimination and hate.
The second stencil is a black and white horse standing on its hind legs as if it has come to a fast stop at the edge of a cliff, its rider a faceless figure draped in a red shroud. The painting looks just like the iconic painting, Napoleon Crossing the Alps by artist Jacques-Louis David, except the rider’s face is covered. It is probably a comment on France’s leadership blindly leading the people of France.
The final mural features a man in a suit offering a bone to a dog. The dog stands on its hind legs, perked up as if to take the bone, meanwhile, the man holds a saw behind his back, and the viewer can see the dog is missing one of its front legs, as if it has been sawed off. This is most likely a comment on the government’s way of dangling something appealing over people’s heads in order to lure them into a situation that will leave them without a “leg to stand on,” or giving them something frivolous in exchange for what they need.
In this sociopolitical climate, artists like Banksy who have been warning us to stay woke through their art are more important than ever. If we can put hope in nothing else, it should be that at least Banksy and others like him might put out more art pieces as part of the resistance.