Joe Syer, Head of Urban & Contemporary Art
Interested in buying or selling
Mr. Brainwash is one of Contemporary art's most controversial & polarising figures. Catapulted to fame off the back of Banksy's film Exit Through The Gift Shop, Thierry Guetta has become an instantly recognisable figure on the international art scene. Here are some key facts about the artist:
Mr. Brainwash’s artistic evolution was mapped in Banksy’s Oscar-nominated 2010 documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop. But there is in fact widespread speculation over whether Mr. Brainwash is just another stunt created by Banksy to poke fun at the absurdity of the art market.
Banksy’s Exit Through The Gift Shop documentary film starts with footage captured by Thierry Guetta, a ‘camera-happy Frenchman’ obsessed with filming everything, especially the graffiti artists of Los Angeles. Mr. Brainwash is born in the documentary when Banksy himself encourages Guetta to make his own artwork.
Mr. Brainwash has a well known street artist cousin: Invader. Thierry Guetta has always been obsessed with capturing everything around him on film and his cousin’s nightly ‘invasion’ adventures were no exception on a family holiday to France in the 90s. Since then it has been well-known that the two are cousins.
Mr. Brainwash blends Pop Art and Street Art to create what he describes as his own form of “graffiti hybrid”.
Mr. Brainwash’s work often co-opts famous copyrighted images and juxtaposes them against a spray-painted background, drawing direct inspiration from artistic bastions such as Banksy, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring.
When compared to other street artists, Mr. Brainwash's work is unashamedly enthusiastic. He frequently features the upbeat slogans ‘life is beautiful’, ‘keep it real’, ‘follow your dreams’ and ‘love is all we need’ in his artworks.
In some cases, Mr. Brainwash’s work even more directly draws upon historical works of art. His 2018 collaboration with throat and neck cancer charity It’s a Thing saw him recreate Rodin’s The Thinker in car tires, overlay Van Gogh portraits with Basquiat-style heads, and paint Robert Indiana’s classic LOVE image into a traditional floral still-life.
Like Warhol, Mr. Brainwash often features famous images of the well-known in his work, as well as recreating his signature colourful stencilled technique. He even refers to Warhol’s artworks directly - for example Tomato Spray transforms Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans into a street art inspired spray canister.
A more recent work was an LA mural dedicated to the late Kobe Bryant, featuring a huge photographic paste-up of the basketball player with his daughter outside of the artist’s studio.
Charlie Chaplin Pink became the most expensive work by Mr Brainwash when it sold at Phillips in New York on 14 May 2010. Almost doubling the upper end of it’s pre-sale estimate, the painting sold for US$122,500 at the auction house.