Strolling down Clements Street in Bristol, England, you would pass a mural of lovers embracing. Upon closer observation you can see that the two are distracted by their cell phones.
Although the couple appears to have their faces inches from the other’s neither one of the individuals seems to be emotional present in the intimate moment. The elusive street artist
Banksy is known for his thought provoking pieces. Banksy is a celebrated British graffiti artist, whose artwork has appeared throughout London and other locations around the world. In April of 2014, the painting ‘Mobile Lovers’ appeared on the side of a Bristol building. Banksy uses juxtaposition of color, perspective, and satire to depict the way mobile technology has effected even the most intimate moments.
With his art, Banksy chooses to target specific social groups. In the past he has aimed his work towards the British police, British monarchy, wall street, and the conflict between Israel and Palestine(Exit Through The Gift Shop). The targeted audience for ‘Mobile Lovers’ could be anyone with a cell phone addiction. “Perhaps a reflection on the public's technology addiction in general, the mural may require people to put down their phones in order to find it, or ironically stare at them more avidly, as snaps of it will inevitably wind up on social media,” said
Christopher Hooton of The Independent. Banksy’s art is designed to make a statement and provoke its viewers to examine their own lives. While some may argue that Banksy’s art is a form of advertisement for societal and political issues, his purpose is not to make a profit, but for
society to truly examine itself. “Sometimes I feel so sick at the state of the world I can't even finish my second apple pie” (Banksy, Wall and Piece). Most of his paintings reflect this tonguein-cheek sense of humor he has.
The painting is relatively plain looking. The viewer will most likely notice its colors first and the lack of how many are used. This is Banksy’s way of making fun of himself, “Modern art is a disaster area. Never in the field of human history has so much been used by so many to say so little”(Banksy, Wall and Piece). Banksy uses black, white and grey to create the scene of distracted lovers standing in a doorway. The juxtaposition of these colors creates a sharp contrast which makes the mural standout against the brick wall it is on. This draws the viewer’s attention to the couple’s faces which are illuminated by the light coming from their smart phones, creating a “ghostly, detached glow” (Hooton). The white colored faces allow us to see the expression on the couple’s faces. Both of their gaze’s are averted to their cell phones, and seem to have a blank expression. This lack of emotional presence in the situation pokes fun at the extent of just how obsessed we are with our cell phones.
From the perspective of the viewer, we are on the outside looking in. Because the couple is the singular object shown in the doorway, it shows that the painting is supposed to be a very intimate moment. Everything about the couple’s body language except for the face mimics that.
The man’s hand is placed on the small of the woman’s back. While she is resting her left hand on his chest. Even their faces are mere inches away from one another’s making it appear as if they are going to kiss. Again, we see the blank expression that shows us just how distracted the couple is. In typical Banksy fashion, the main rhetorical device used is satire. His satirical and irreverent messages cross the boundaries between art, philosophy, politics, sociology, humor and narcissism (Exit Through The Gift Shop). By choosing to make his statement pieces so public, his messages reach a large audience and have created a cult following for whatever pieces he produces in the future. In his novel, Wall and Piece, after someone commented on his original art pieces being clever he said, “I'd been painting rats for three years…