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A recreation of Banksy’s lockdown artwork
An unauthorised recreation of Banksy’s lockdown artworkVia The Art of Banksy: Without Limits

A Banksy show is called out for not containing enough real Banksys

The Seoul exhibition, which features unauthorised reproductions of the street artist’s work, has offered refunds to dissatisfied visitors

Banksy has long warned fans that the worldwide exhibitions in his name are, more often than not, unofficial and non-consensual. “They’ve been organised entirely without the artist's knowledge or involvement,” reads a dedicated page on the street artist’s website. “Please treat them accordingly.”

Nevertheless, a Banksy exhibition is causing controversy in the midst of its ongoing world tour, drawing criticism for its lack of genuine Banksy artworks. Titled The Art of Banksy: Without Limits, the show has even been forced to issue refunds to visitors during its first Asian stop, in Seoul.

According to promotional materials for an upcoming US iteration, The Art of Banksy: Without Limits includes: “More than 110 of the artist’s works, such as his original art, prints on different kinds of materials, photos, sculptures, and much more. Some of his works have even been reproduced with his stencil technique especially for the exhibition.”

However, the Korea Herald reports that a mere 27 of the 150 artworks featured in the Seoul show are Banksy originals. Unauthorized reproductions include a version of Banksy’s Laugh Now mural — which has also recently been involved in a longstanding trademark dispute — and a recreation of a lockdown artwork that sees rats wreak havoc in the artist's own bathroom.

“It is a pity that the show did not specify that most of works are replicas,” reads one of several negative reviews.

“There were some misunderstandings about the exhibition,” says Park Bong-su, a senior manager at the exhibition organiser, LMPE Company. “We are preparing some leaflets that indicate which artworks are original.”

“Banksy is an artist who has been outspoken on social issues,” they add. “The exhibition aims to deliver the artist’s messages and help audiences realize they can also spread positive influences to the world in their own ways.”

The show itself has travelled across 11 European countries since its Istanbul debut in 2016. In that time, its drawn in an estimated one million visitors. Unsurprisingly — given Banksy’s growing prominence in the global art market, fuelled by stunts such as shredding his own work at auction — a total of 25,000 tickets were sold via preorder for the Seoul version. 

LMPE has since offered refunds to Banksy fans that want to cancel their visit. Those that do attend will get to see a few originals, however, including sculptures from Banksy’s large-scale Dismaland project. Banksy has also recently shared a behind-the-scenes look at his latest project — a series of graffiti artworks in British seaside towns — in a video titled “A Great British Spraycation”. Watch here, and take a closer look at the artworks from the series in the gallery above.