Petrolhead

Petrolhead
Mixed Media

Banksy

Mixed Media, 2003
Mixed Media Edition of 25

Critical Review

In this image Banksy depicts a stick figure holding the nozzle of a petrol pump to his head. The image suggests the figure is killing himself using the petrol gun. The title of the work references the nickname given to an individual who is passionate about cars to the point of obsession, preferring motor vehicles above all other forms of transport.

Banksy’s artwork links a love of cars to a metaphorical gun to the head due to the connection between fossil fuels and the climate crisis and the disastrous impact society’s overuse of cars is having on the environment.

Petrolhead was first made available at Banksy’s Santa Ghetto pop-up on London’s Oxford Street in December 2003. Along with prints and paintings by Banksy, the shop also sold works by Jamie Hewlett, Faile, Massive Attack's 3D and other street artists – with prices starting at as little as £40. On the Ghetto, Banksy sardonically commented: “The Ghetto is partly a shameless commercial enterprise, and partly about promoting art. But basically it is a piss-take on Christmas.” Just as the anonymous street artist said that his Love Rat screen print would make an “ideal [gift] for a cheating spouse”, Petrolhead could similarly be the perfect gift for a climate change sceptic.

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