Banksy

Banksy art show coming to Toronto this spring and so is Mona Lisa

The largest collection of original and authenticated Banksy artwork is on display in Toronto including the artist’s iconic depiction of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Banksy’s Mona Lisa—wrestled from her original serene context in a rarely seen painting—makes its North American debut as the feature piece in “The Art of Banksy” exhibit on now at the Lighthouse Artspace.

The collection showcases more than 140 pieces, including hand-drawn sketches on display for the first time in Toronto, stencils used in wall graffiti, alongside previously unseen artworks, prints, canvases, and ephemera.

Banksy

Banksy’s Mona Lisa, however, is the most expensive piece in this collection. According to Starvox Exhibits, the presenter of the exhibit, the work was originally purchased directly from the artist by a Hollywood A-lister. In 2022, he returned the Mona Lisa to Banksy who then developed the painting further to create a brand-new artwork that incorporated the original (the painting is on loan to The Art of Banksy collection for a limited time).

The painting was first unveiled at The Art of Banksy in London last September, and it seems that Torontonians are looking forward to its North American debut.

The collection also includes other special exhibits, such as the original “Flower Thrower” piece. In 2003, Banksy unveiled “Flower Thrower”, also known as “Love is in the Air” for the first time, becoming one of the artist’s most recognizable works. Although Banksy had already created an initial artwork in 1997, depicting a man throwing a bunch of flowers, as a Valentine’s Day gift for his then-girlfriend. The original “Flower Thrower” will be shown together with information about the origins of the image.

“We are grateful to the private collectors who have decided to share their authenticated Banksy pieces through this exhibit,” Art of Banksy curator and producer, Michael Boersma says. “Many of these pieces have not been seen in public before and the experience of seeing them in person has resonated with audiences around the world. This body of work is a great example of how real art does not need to be ambiguous and difficult, but it does need to be experienced to be fully appreciated”.

Torontonians can also view “Girl With Balloon” in three different colour variations, “Rude Copper”, alongside Banksy’s “Dismaland” with a new extended display of images acknowledging the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Starvox Exhibits first presented The Art of Banksy to Canada in 2018, with a sold-out presentation that went on to successful tours in Chicago, Boston, Washington, Denver, and San Francisco.

“Banksy has become a topic for art critiques as well as a wider audience by combining art, intellectual thought, pop culture and activism,” Starvox Exhibits CEO Corey Ross adds. “His commentary deserves to be experienced by as wide an audience as possible, and we are delighted to be bringing this collection back to Canada with a newly expanded collection of these iconic pieces”.

Not enough Banksy for you? Here are two places in Toronto where you can see work from the iconic artist for free.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO