Mr. Brainwash, the polarizing art megastar made famous/infamous in Banksy's Oscar-nominated documentary "Exit Through The Gift Shop" is readying an 80,000 square-foot building in Los Angeles for his massive "Art Show 2011." The large warehouse, consisting of four different floors filled with art, will feature not only the work of Mr. Brainwash, real name Thierry Guetta, but also the work of volunteering artists. From the renowned graffiti crew, The Seventh Letter, to the most unknown of amateur artists, every inch of the warehouse will be jam-packed with work of the street art persuasion.
As I entered the building, the pungent smell of spray paint entered my nostrils and I became giddy with excitement at the prospect of an entire space whose only master was chaos. Abandoning the mantra of "less is more" long ago, Mr. Brainwash's show was already overwhelming and it wasn't even near completion at the time of my visit.
Then, however, an interesting thing happened. My eyes adjusted to the overstimulation and began to take in the work as a whole. Various found objects are used as canvasses including stoves, refrigerators, cabinets, you name it, but each hub of art could stand on its own or as part of the whole. Each inch was covered with small moments and micro-histories of all the individuals involved, acting as a collective visual experience. If the entire building could be likened to our universe, it was as if each pillar, wall or object was its own galaxy, beautiful in its own right, but part of a bigger picture.
Critics of Brainwash's all-or-nothing aesthetic will not be disappointed. The regurgitated symbols of pop culture are expectedly a large part of Brainwash's work, leaving a familiar taste on the palette, but "Art Show 2011" is operating on so many levels that the high-powered art critic and the casual observer alike will have much to discuss. Yes, we've seen this in some iteration all before, but is that the point? Is this a comment on the self-promotional nature of art or just plain self-promotion?
Whether we are witness to the biggest performance art piece ever or just one of Brainwash's overstuffed art shows is still to be determined. However, the way Mr. Brainwash commands our attention indicates that it may be a bit of both.
View a video of Mr. Brainwash taking Art Basel Miami below.