Mr. Brainwash (aka Thierry Guetta) rose to prominence when he appeared in Exit Through the Gift Shop – Banksy’s documentary cum mockumentary, which focussed more on Guetta than it did on Banksy himself.
At the time consensus was that he was a fictional creation but he has gone on to become a successful commercial artist in his own right and step out of the shadows of simply being known as Banksy’s protege.
As a prelude to this show at Opera Gallery, he’s been busy decorating London’s streets to announce his arrival.
He is an artist that divides people. Some love his manic energy and scatter gun style while others find his works garish and child-like. It’s hard not to get caught up in the eternal optimism of his work but sometimes it can be too much. He even goes so far as to declare in one piece that, ‘Art cannot be criticised because every mistake is a new creation’. We disagree.
His brash style can often leave pieces feeling cluttered — the Superman portrait is a prime example where there is so much going on that it detracts from the central figure. But at other times his cheeky humour shines through. A black and white Picasso holding a paintbrush in front of a wall covered in graffiti looks bamboozled. It’s as if he’s thinking ‘what have you painted me doing?’
This is only the first of two exhibitions in London as he has taken over the Old Sorting Office opposite the British Museum to create a much bigger display featuring larger works, opening in early August.
Mr Brainwash knows no subtlety and most viewers will find both works that they like and dislike. But if it’s energy and optimism that you’re looking for, you’ll find it here in buckets.
Mr. Brainwash is on display at the Opera Gallery, 134 New Bond St, W1S 2TF until 10 August. Entrance is free.