Love Is In The Air (Flower Thrower) Banksy
Love Is In The Air, also known as the Flower Thrower or LIITA, by Banksy first appeared in 2003 as a large format stencilled graffiti in Jerusalem shortly after the construction of the West Bank Wall. The graffiti was made on the 760-kilometre wall that separates the Palestinian West Bank from Israel, a wall which ‘essentially turns Palestine into the world’s largest open prison’, according to the guerilla artist. The wall rapidly became a giant art canvas for paintings and writings to protest against its construction. Banksy returned there in 2005 to paint a series of 9 provocative works supporting freedom and equality. His combat in favour of peace led him to intervene in Gaza in 2015 where he painted 4 new pieces among the ruins of a bombed city in order to highlight the plight of the people living in the Gaza Strip. Shortly after its creation. Since then, the artist has created several versions of the stencil on canvas but also print runs. It is arguably one of his most iconic and most sought-after artworks which has been reproduced as posters, phone covers, T-shirts by shopkeepers all over the world. On top of that, the image featured on the cover of Banksy’s 2005 famous book Wall and Piece.
The image depicts a photo-realistic angry young man wearing a baseball cap and a bandana as a mask to cover partially his face. The character is throwing what looks like throwing a Molotov cocktail or a grenade. But the artist's twist is that in fact the young man is throwing a bunch of flowers. The character is made in Banksy's black and white stencil trademark, with a red block colour background. Later, Banksy created a painting on canvas entitled Flower Power in which he incorporated the image of his famous Flower Thrower in a chaotic riot scene.
The image is representative of Banksy's artistic style but also his political ideas and his activism in general and is reminiscent of images from the 1960s campus and street riots that rocked the United States and the United Kingdom during the Vietnam War. On can see anger and aggressiveness in the posture of the character who leans backward with one arm out. But instead of being truly aggressive, the protagonist holds the embodiment of love and peace and is ready to spread this feeling (even by using force), which echoes the title of the artwork. The flowers, as they are here the only weapon for the protestor, show a call for peace. Originally painted in a conflict-ridden area in Jerusalem, the mural directly addressed the authorities and exhibited the artist's hope for peace. The young man, presented as a militant, suggests peaceful means rather than war. The intense and uniform red colour in the background which was added to the print reinforces the intensity of the artist's message.