​Banksy From Paul Smith Leads Bonhams Post-war and Contemporary Art Sale

Congestion Charge (2004), a rare Vandalized Oils painting by British art rebel, Banksy, from the private collection of the British fashion and design titan, Sir Paul Smith, leads Bonhams' Post-War and Contemporary Art Sale on Thursday 29 June in New Bond Street, London. Sir Paul Smith acquired the work from Banksy's Santa's Ghetto exhibition in London in 2004, and it has remained in his distinguished collection ever since. The work, which has never before been offered at auction, has an estimate of £1,200,000-1,800,000.

Over several decades, Banksy's irreverent humour and perceptive satire of British social and political issues have earned him widespread recognition and international acclaim. Characterized by a bold stencilling technique, his universally recognisable works are fiercely sought after by collectors globally. His Vandalized Oils, also referred to as Crude Oils, were made famous through the now iconic 2005 show of the same title and consist of reimagined Old Master paintings such as such as Show Me The Monet and Sunflowers From Petrol Station, alongside modified traditional oil paintings the artist discovered at flea markets around London, such as Congestion Charge (2004). Banksy famously placed some of his Vandalized Oils in prominent galleries where they would hang unnoticed amongst the institution's permanent collection, sometimes for days. The act allowed him to circumvent the traditional art world and its gatekeepers, making a direct impact on the public sphere and challenging the notions of ownership, authenticity, and the commercialisation of art.

Confronting issues such as urban life, pollution and global warming, Congestion Charge(2004) tackles some of Banksy's most returned-to themes. Painting over the classical-style oil painting, Banksy injects an urgent sense of contemporary politics to the charming pastoral scene by adding the incongruous detail of a congestion sign, ridiculing the congestion charge policy which was introduced in London to reduce peak-hour traffic the year before this work was painted. The absurd placement of the sign urges viewers to question the effectiveness and consequences of urban policies, whilst being characteristic of Banksy's distinctly playful and witty delivery of thought-provoking commentary.