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Could a mural in Galicia be the first Banksy artwork in Spain?

A painting daubed on a wall in the Galician town of Ferrol de Coruña has caused excitement with the hope that it might actually be a genuine artwork by the anti-establishment artist, Banksy.

Could a mural in Galicia be the first Banksy artwork in Spain?
The mural of two Guardia Civil kissing is signed by "Banksy"

The signed mural of two Civil Guards locked in a kiss appeared on Tuesday morning on a wall that was officially “reserved for Banksy” in a bid to tempt the infamous anonymous artist into town.

The space had been deliberately left blank during a regeneration project last September that invited urban artists to decorate the town.

Eduardo Hermida, the organiser of the Meninas de Canido street festival behind the art project said he had emailed the coordinates of the space to an email on Banksy’s official website.

But although hopeful that the work was a true Banksy, he admitted there was no way to confirm it.

“We just don’t know if the work which has appeared in the reserved space is original or not,” he said.

“But if it is an imitator, it will be the work of someone inspired by the technique of the great one,” he added..

The mural of two officers of the law gripped in an embrace closely emulates one of Banksy's most famous images; that of two British policemen kissing which appeared on the wall of a Brighton pub in 2004 and was later sold at auction for $575,000.

But although Banksy does not always sign his artwork, he does use an Instagram account to post photos of newly created street art, usually within a day of its creation.

No such post has made of the Ferrol artwork as yet.

But that isn’t dampening the enthusiasm of his many Spanish fans, including the Guardia Civil themselves.

The official Guardia Civil account boasted of being the chosen subject of a possible Bansky.   

 “Well, it would be nice to be the protagonist of the first in Spain, don’t you think?” 

The true identity of the mysterious British street artist has been a closely guarded secret ever since his iconic artwork first appeared on streets around Bristol in the 1990s.

Various attempts have been made to unmask him and dozens of theories as to his true identity abound including some suggesting that it is not the work of one artist but a collective. Or even a woman.

 

ART

Paul Gauguin’s ‘Mata Mua’ returns to Spain

One of French painter Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings, "Mata Mua", will return to a Madrid museum on Monday following an agreement between the Spanish government and its owner, who took it out of the country.

mata mua madrid
Toward the end of his life, Gauguin spent ten years in French Polynesia, where he completed some of his most famous artwork Painting: Paul Gaugin

The artwork had been on display for two decades at Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza museum but in 2020 when the institution closed because of the pandemic, the painting’s owner Carmen Thyssen moved it to Andorra where she currently lives.

Her decision to take “Mata Mua” to the microstate sandwiched between Spain and France raised fears she would remove other works from her collection which are on display at the museum.

“It is expected that the painting will arrive today,” a spokeswoman for the museum told AFP.

mata-mua_gauguin-madrid

In 1989, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza bought Mata Mua at the Sotheby’s auction in New York. Painting: Paul Gauguin

The artwork will go back on display to the public “a few days after” Thyssen signs a new agreement with the Spanish state for the lease of her collection, she added. The deal is expected to be signed on Wednesday.

Painted in 1892 in vivid, flat colours, “Mata Mua” depicts two women, one playing the flute and the other listening, set against a lush Tahitian landscape.

It is one of the stars of Thyssen’s collection of several hundred paintings which are on show at the museum, including works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet.

Her collection had initially been displayed at the Madrid museum as part of a free loan agreement signed in February 2002 that was subsequently extended.

But in August 2021 Spain’s culture ministry announced it had reached an agreement with Thyssen to rent the collection from her for 15 years for €97.5 million ($111.5 million), with “preferential acquisition rights on all or part” of the works. The collection includes a Degas, a Hopper and a Monet.

Aside from housing her collection of works, the museum displays the collection of her late husband, Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Swiss heir to a powerful industrial lineage who died in Spain in 2002.

The Spanish state bought his collection in 1993 from $350 million, according to the museum.

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