Banksy's Forgive Us Our Trespassing

Year: 2011
Medium: Mixed Media
Dimensions: 655 x 421cm
Last Hammer: £5,386,284 (Sotheby's Hong Kong, 2020)
Signed/Unsigned: Signed
Banksy's Forgive Us Our Trespassing. A mixed media work of graffiti style stained glass windows with someone in white, kneeling and praying in front of them.Forgive Us Our Trespassing © Banksy 2011
Joe Syer

Joe Syer, Co-Founder & Specialist[email protected]

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In Forgive Us Our Trespassing, Banksy's canvas erupts with the vibrant chaos of graffiti, challenging the sanctity of traditional art forms. This 2011 mixed media work, signed by the artist, juxtaposes the reverence of a stained glass window with the raw, unbridled expression of street art. At its base, a child at prayer symbolises the purity of artistic creation, a poignant plea for absolution in the face of societal norms. Banksy crafts a modern-day cathedral of creativity, asserting the sanctity of street art as a force for transformation and transcendence.

Forgive Us Our Trespassing: Meaning & Analysis

Banksy's Forgive Us Our Trespassing is a profound meditation on the sacred and the profane, a mixed media tableau that interrogates the boundaries of artistic expression. The piece embodies a cathedral of contemporary culture, where the traditional iconography of stained glass is supplanted by the uncurated chorus of the street. It is here that Banksy's artistry weaves a complex narrative, embracing the layered textures of public discourse through graffiti.

At the heart of this visual odyssey is the image of a child in prayer, an emblem of innocence and hope amidst the cacophony of vibrant tags and symbols. This solitary figure, armed with a paint pot and brush, becomes the anointed architect of this anarchic sanctum. The artwork contemplates the act of creation as a divine pursuit, juxtaposing the often maligned medium of graffiti with the sanctified artistry of religious artefacts.

Through this work, Banksy crafts a compelling analysis of graffiti's transformative power. The act of trespassing, often condemned in the context of street art, is recast as a spiritual imperative, a necessary transgression that breathes life into the sterile cityscapes. The multitude of tags and images converge into a kaleidoscopic testament to the voices of the marginalised, often unheard yet vibrantly present.

The inclusion of motifs reminiscent of other renowned artists, such as Basquiat and Invader, speaks to the interconnectedness of the street art community. Banksy's work does not exist in isolation but as part of a larger dialogue that spans time and geography, a conversation that challenges the traditional hierarchy of artistic merit.

Forgive Us Our Trespassing is a manifesto that calls into question the very notions of sin and sanctity within the art world, proposing that perhaps the greatest sin is not the act of trespassing, but the failure to recognise the potential for beauty and commentary in all forms of expression. The work stands as a bold indictment of the institutions that fail to acknowledge the sanctity of the subversive, the holiness of the street, and the divine nature of dissent.

Forgive Us Our Trespassing is a powerful exploration of the intersection between the sacred and the profane within the context of street art and architecture.”

Joe Syer
Joe Syer,Co-Founder & Specialist,MYArtbroker

Reflections on Forgive Us Our Trespassing

Banksy's Forgive Us Our Trespassing stands as a bold reminder of art as a vehicle for social commentary. It reveals a celebration of the medium's power to incite, inspire, and interrogate. The artwork is a dialogue, a negotiation between the enduring and the ephemeral, the divine and the worldly.

In this piece, Banksy suggests that perhaps true reverence lies in the act of creation, in the boldness to challenge and redefine. The work embodies a holistic narrative that embraces the complexity of human expression, urging us to forgive not only the trespasses of the artist but also the limitations we impose on art itself.

Forgive Us Our Trespassing: Exhibition History

Los Angeles, Art In The Streets, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA April - August 2011


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