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Spanish ‘Banksy’ exposes CCTV hysteria

'Cameras', described as '150 fake security cameras on a wall with the intention of not watching over anything' is the latest work by the anonymous artist SpY, dubbed the 'Spanish Banksy' by the international press.

Spanish 'Banksy' exposes CCTV hysteria
The artist, whose true identity is unknown, has said that the work is 'a reflection on the daily interaction with technology'. Photo: spy-urbanart.com

SpY has himself claimed to have little in common with Banksy, instead declaring his influences to be "Land art, Pop Art, Surrealism and artists from different eras, from  Gordon Matta-Clark, Andy Goldsworthy or Keith Haring to the Spanish artist Santiago Sierra,” in an interview with S Moda magazine.

But like the similarly anonymous British artist, SpY has used urban art around the world to win legions of celebrity fans, including rapper Kanye West.

He has previously created works in France, Germany, Poland, Mexico, the USA and Japan but says that he is most proud of his latest vision.

Located in the Tetuán neighbourhood of Madrid, the artist claims that it is "a reflection on the daily interaction with technology and those behind it."

He added: "In the neighbourhood there were mixed reactions, from those who saw it as a way to decorate the facade of the building, to those who were wondering if the cameras were turned on and who even interacted with them."

"Art for me is a means to express and communicate my ideas. The city is my artistic medium; it offers me great possibilities to carry out my current works," he said.

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ART

Paul Gauguin’s ‘Mata Mua’ returns to Spain

One of French painter Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings, "Mata Mua", will return to a Madrid museum on Monday following an agreement between the Spanish government and its owner, who took it out of the country.

mata mua madrid
Toward the end of his life, Gauguin spent ten years in French Polynesia, where he completed some of his most famous artwork Painting: Paul Gaugin

The artwork had been on display for two decades at Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza museum but in 2020 when the institution closed because of the pandemic, the painting’s owner Carmen Thyssen moved it to Andorra where she currently lives.

Her decision to take “Mata Mua” to the microstate sandwiched between Spain and France raised fears she would remove other works from her collection which are on display at the museum.

“It is expected that the painting will arrive today,” a spokeswoman for the museum told AFP.

mata-mua_gauguin-madrid

In 1989, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza bought Mata Mua at the Sotheby’s auction in New York. Painting: Paul Gauguin

The artwork will go back on display to the public “a few days after” Thyssen signs a new agreement with the Spanish state for the lease of her collection, she added. The deal is expected to be signed on Wednesday.

Painted in 1892 in vivid, flat colours, “Mata Mua” depicts two women, one playing the flute and the other listening, set against a lush Tahitian landscape.

It is one of the stars of Thyssen’s collection of several hundred paintings which are on show at the museum, including works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet.

Her collection had initially been displayed at the Madrid museum as part of a free loan agreement signed in February 2002 that was subsequently extended.

But in August 2021 Spain’s culture ministry announced it had reached an agreement with Thyssen to rent the collection from her for 15 years for €97.5 million ($111.5 million), with “preferential acquisition rights on all or part” of the works. The collection includes a Degas, a Hopper and a Monet.

Aside from housing her collection of works, the museum displays the collection of her late husband, Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Swiss heir to a powerful industrial lineage who died in Spain in 2002.

The Spanish state bought his collection in 1993 from $350 million, according to the museum.

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