Rare Banksy Solo Exhibition Opens in Glasgow

The secretive street artist has officially authorized the show, which features never-before-seen stencils

Girl with balloon stencil
The original stencil for Banksy's Girl With Balloon is among the items on display in a new solo show at Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art. Jane Barlow / PA Images via Getty Images

Outside Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), a sculpted Duke of Wellington sits astride his horse. More often than not, the statue also sports a jaunty traffic cone, as it has for more than four decades in what has become an unofficial tradition

Recently, this quirky convention attracted the secretive street artist Banksy, who is staging a rare solo exhibition at GoMA this summer.

“Despite the best efforts of the council and police, every time [a traffic cone] is removed another takes its place,” writes the artist in a gallery label for the show, per the Guardian’s Nadia Khomami. “This might sound absurd and pretentious (just wait until you see the rest of the exhibition) but it’s my favorite work of art in the U.K. and the reason I’ve brought the show here.”

Titled “Cut & Run: 25 Years Card Labor,” the show includes never-before-seen stencils for some of Banksy’s iconic works, some of which have been used to create new versions of famous pieces like Kissing Coppers.

“I’ve kept these stencils hidden away for years, mindful they could be used as evidence in a charge of criminal damage,” says the artist in a statement. “But that moment seems to have passed, so now I’m exhibiting them in a gallery as works of art. I’m not sure which is the greater crime.”

Ukraine stencil
Another stencil on display is from Banksy's recent work in support of Ukraine. Jane Barlow / PA Images via Getty Images

Also on display is a model of the shredding mechanism that Banksy secretly built into the frame of his Girl With Balloon. Immediately after the painting sold at auction in 2018, the work descended into the shredder

“Cut & Run” has been in the works since 2020. Planning the show was a secretive affair, but the complicated logistics were worth it, says museum manager Gareth James. “I think the show is beyond what I could even have imagined or wished for,” he tells the Herald’s Craig Williams. “The content. The behind-the-scenes stuff. How funny the captions are.”

No photos are permitted at the show, and all guests will be asked to put their phones in a lockable pouch for the duration of their visit, according to the exhibition website. The show, which stays open all night on weekends, also features “tight spaces, fragile items and disorientating light effects,” per the website.

While other Banksy exhibitions have opened in recent years, “Cut & Run” is the artist’s first authorized solo show since 2009’s “Banksy Versus Bristol Museum,” reports BBC News’ Colin Paterson. 

“While the unauthorized Banksy shows might look like sweepings from my studio floor, ‘Cut & Run’ really is the actual sweepings from my studio floor,” the artist jokes in the statement.

Banksy participated in a joint exhibition in Glasgow in 2001. He’s also created several stencil-based works in the city, though none remain, per BBC News. “Street art has become one of Glasgow’s signatures, and there’s no one who’s done more to put street art at the heart of culture, politics and society than Banksy,” says Susan Aitken, who leads the Glasgow City Council, in a statement.

“Cut & Run” has already sold out of the tickets released so far—more are coming soon—and fans have lined up for hours to see it. The museum is also offering free tickets to various community groups and charities.

According to GoMA curator Martin McSheaffrey-Craig, it’s worth the wait. “Even the most die-hard Banksy fan is going to see something they’ve never seen before in there,” he tells the Herald.

Cut & Run: 25 Years Card Labor” is on view at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow through August 28.

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