Saturday, 18 June 2011

Post Bank | War-ism

After reading of “the Banksy of Bulgaria” transforming a monument to the Russian Red Army in Sofia into popular superheroes and cartoon characters in the Daily Mail, my thoughts turned to an exhibition I attended last week at the acclaimed Andipa Gallery in Walton Street, SW3.

In Sofia, a graffiti artist sprayed “Moving with the times” beneath a statue that he turned from a somber war memorial into characters including Ronald McDonald, Santa Claus and The Joker. His was an attack on the perils of capitalism in a country still emerging from the shadows of communism.

In Knightsbridge, Banksy’s iconic Girl with Balloon and original work Laugh Now are currently displayed alongside the artist War Boutique’s remodeling of the fabrics of war into installations of peace and a print depicting a privatised Postman Pat and his van. Here we are witness to an exhibition showcasing contemporary British issues such as privatisation, knife crime and a contempt for the state of the world.

War Boutique print Privatised Pat

Whilst the name Banksy is incredibly well known, War Boutique is an emerging talent with this being his first commercial exhibition. War Boutique’s fascination with the fabrics of combat, Kevlar and Dyneema, are displayed in pieces ranging from Beasts, a protective police mask from which a pair of batons sprout in antler-like form, to City Gent Soldier, a perfectly tailored bullet proof suit using the finest Gieves & Hawkes cloth cut and sewn by their finest military tailors.

War Boutique's Beasts

Inspiration plainly comes from the time the artist spent working for a body armour company, but here the recycling of uniforms and ballistic materials are designed to “alert us to the creeping militarisation of our society, encourage us to work towards peace and remind us of our duty to realise this.”

War Boutique’s child sized stab vests also reflect another current theme, that of knife crime. These, previously, were displayed at a mock-up shop in Peckham. The result was a swarm of locals requesting just such to protect their children from this most tragic criminal activity.

Run by the enigmatic Maria Andipa and her family for over forty years, the Andipa Gallery was the first gallery to put on a major exhibition of Banksy’s works on the secondary market. Andipa’s small Walton Street premises, which more recently benefitted from a basement extension, somehow managed to showcase that collection to 25,000 people. Since then they have become one of the leading dealers in contemporary art in London.

A comment from Banksy from 2006 summarises this exhibition perfectly: “We can’t do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles. In the meantime we should all go shopping to console ourselves.”

With such a wide array available to purchase at the Andipa Gallery this month, this exhibition is well worth a visit. Meanwhile the debate about the privatisation of the Post Office will continue to rumble on.

Banksy | War Boutique shows at the Andipa Gallery until Saturday 9th July 2011.

 “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Superman and friends… painted on Soviet war statue by the Banksy of Bulgaria” -

Andipa Gallery, 162 Walton Street, London, SW3 2JL. Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7589 2371. Website:

Gallery open Monday to Friday: 9.30am to 6pm. Saturday: 11am to 6pm.


Anonymous said...

Fascinating piece. The works of War Boutique really do sound clever. If I lived closer, I'd visit for sure.

Helen Peterson said...

I love "The Beast" It's like modernised taxidermy.

David Kelly said...

The War Boutiques works are as facile or profound as the reader. To my eyes, it is seriously impressive stuff in a sea of mediocrity.

Anne Wright said...

I'd prefer an Old Master. Banksy is over-rated.