BRUSSELS (Reuters) – An exhibition of work by British street artist Banksy opened on Thursday in Brussels with 17 original artworks brought together for the first time in Belgium.
Spanning 15 years of Banksy’s career, the works on display are certified by Pest Control, the only authentication authority recognised by the artist. Banksy, who keeps his identity a secret, has not authorised the exhibition itself.
Led by gallery owner, Banksy collector and computer scientist Deodato Salafia, 51, the Deodato Art Gallery opened in November, days before Belgium went into another coronavirus lockdown.
The country is now facing new coronavirus measures with non-essential shops closed from Saturday. Museums and galleries remain open, however, and about 6,000 people are expected to visit the exhibition which runs until May 22.
The starting price of the artwork on display is $50,000, Salafia said.
“It’s not a matter of lockdown or not, it’s a matter for the art galleries to understand that selling art and having people enjoy and buy art is no different than selling or buying shoes or other stuff,” Salafia said.
Artworks on display include “Love Rat,” “Donuts Strawberry” and “The Flower Thrower,” a 2019 triptych screenprint on recycled cardboard. Made in 300 copies, it is the only one with the original frame.
Deodato, who started collecting Banksy five years ago, said finding a multiple-piece Banksy artwork was difficult because they are usually broken up.
“You need to be patient, it’s not possible to buy all these pieces in one shot,” Salafia said.
Banksy is known for his political or social-commentary graffiti that has popped up in cities around the world.
His painting of a boy playing with a toy nurse as a superhero, a tribute to health workers, sold for more than $20 million on Tuesday in London, a record for the Bristol-born artist.
“Everybody wants to see Banksy, perhaps because nobody knows him,” Salafia said.
(Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine, Editing by Robin Emmott and Janet Lawrence)