If you're in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia this weekend, consider your plans sorted. Starting Feb. 20, unknown - yet globally famous - British artist Banksy will have some of his artworks on display at the King Abdullah Financial Center. Lasting till April 20, "The Art of Banksy 'Without Limits'" will open its doors to the public as the largest exhibition of Banksy art ever assembled.
The traveling exhibition, which has already made its way to Amsterdam, Berlin, Melbourne, and Paris, will land in an Arab country for the first time ever. It showcases over 80 iconic creations from multiple private collections including photographs, multi-media prints, and a documentary on the artist and his work.
Of course, "Girl with Balloon" and "Monkey Queen" will be on display as well as multiple other famous artworks of his.
But here's the twist: The exhibition remains unauthorized to this day. This means renowned British artist Banksy himself hasn't curated or okayed the collection. The pieces displayed are just artworks that have so far been less exposed to the public and are currently on loan from collectors.
Fans of Banksy wouldn't find such news shocking for sure. The UK-based street artist himself remains anonymous even though he's been active in the graffiti scene since the 1990s.
According to the organizers of the exhibition, the show is meant to "celebrate Banksy's art and drive his message of hope and humanity to the world."
Banksy's true identity remains unknown, but his work has crossed borders and transcended cultural barriers
Banksy's pieces are coated in layers of dark humor along with political and social commentary, all while retaining the beauty of having nothing lost in translation. No artwork, be it a painting or a graffiti wall, has yet failed to invite passersby to stand closely to contemplate its meaning.
In 2017, the street artist opened a new project dubbed "The Walled Off Hotel" in the West Bank next to the infamous separation wall. It is part hotel, part museum and, of course, one big art installation. The hotel includes paintings done in Banksy's signature street art style.
Each room represents a particular theme or statement. From critiquing colonialism to highlighting the reality of the Israeli military, these rooms not only provide a place for guests to sleep in but also lead them to think about the present reality in Palestine and the historical roots of today's conflict.
Banksy also made international headlines in 2018 when his famed "Girl with Balloon" self-destructed into pieces after it was up for auction at Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Sale in London moments after being sold for $1.4 million. The mural - which shows a young girl releasing a red heart-shaped balloon - was originally spray-painted on a building in East London.
Will Banksy make a surprise appearance in Riyadh to give us his insights on the show? Perhaps not, but the idea doesn't seem far from what the mastermind would plot.