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Banksy Comes to Toronto!

Famed British street artist Banksy has never done any work on Toronto streets before—at least not, it looks like, until now.
Three new pieces in Banksy’s distinctive style have popped up on walls in Toronto over the past two days: one’s near Trinity Bellwoods Park, another’s near Union Station, and a final one’s around the Rogers Centre. (We’ve been asked to keep the exact locations private, lest “bad intentions” lead to them being chipped away and sold.)
Simon Cole, director of Show & Tell Gallery and something of a graffiti expert, is himself convinced that the three are the real thing—”I have it on really good word,” he says, that they are (and he featured them on the Gallery’s blog today). We hear, too, that Banksy is currently in town to coincide with the launch of his film, Exit Through the Gift Shop. Of course, we can’t phone the man himself up to confirm that the pieces are legit, but we’ve got a pretty big hunch that they are.

MAY 10, 9:00 A.M.—We got our hands on four more photos of four more new pieces in Toronto by either Banksy or someone doing an awfully good Banksy impression—one piece in Chinatown, and three more close to the waterfront (but not to each other). The latest additions start in the gallery above, here. Spot any others? Email
MAY 10, 5:52 P.M.—Just as fast, the pieces are starting to disappear. This one, which was located at Adelaide and Brant, was gone as of this morning:

Photo by Nick Kozak/Torontoist.

…and we’ve heard from a few people now (including commenters) that this one, on the back of a sign in the Port Lands, has vanished, too.
MAY 10, 9:38 P.M.—With the CBC now reporting that Banksy’s publicist has confirmed that at least some of the pieces are real work, and with all other evidence pointing in the direction of our earliest hunch, it’s time we ditched the question mark in this article’s original title (“Banksy Comes to Toronto?”) for an exclamation point. We’re as certain as we can be that these works are the real thing.
MAY 13, 12:51 P.M.: You can follow our continuing coverage of Banksy’s Toronto trip—from false sightings to painted-over pieces to, now, our list of where to find each piece—here.
Photos, unless otherwise noted, by Gary Smithson.


  • http://undefined TheSpud

    I may be wrong, but a few days ago I noticed a very Banksy-like painting in (of all places) James Gardens in Etobicoke. At the base of a small bridge that crosses the Humber (and just past the railway bridge), there is a painting of Gandhi just above the waterline on one of the support columns.

  • http://undefined Dave

    Given the subject matter of two of them it may also have something to do with the upcoming G20 Summit in Toronto which is all about reform of the banking system. Just a thought. (Also the sites are all around the Metro Convention Centre…)

  • http://undefined Ghazal

    There is one at the corner of Niagara and Wellingdon that’s been there for a few years. Unfortunately, about a year ago, somebody painted over the character’s head, so only the body is left. You can see a pic of the original here:

  • http://undefined sunday

    Shush. If Mammoliti gets wind Banksy is in town, he’ll have the soap-and-water cops out in full force

  • http://undefined davedave

    banksy = garbage
    He’s not an artist – he’s barely a cartoonist.
    His “style’ is nonexistent – anybody can do exactly what he does with 2 clicks of a mouse in photoshop.
    His “ideas” are lame and try oh so hard to be edgy and cool.
    But the hipsters they drink it up.
    Glug glug glug.

  • Andy H

    Why exactly is he not an artist?
    How is his style nonexistant?
    And what exactly are the lame ideas he has?
    Just asking for some clarification, you know, so that more people won’t just go tossing around grandiose claims and accusations without any sort of supporting thoughts whatsoever.
    I honestly want to know why you think he’s so shit, mostly to alleviate my suspicions that you’re one of those everyone-loves-it-so-it-must-be-garbage types.

  • http://undefined davedave

    Sorry – I gues naybody who craps out something and calls it art is an artist. So, I guess I take that back.
    His style can be imitated by anybody with a mouse and photoshop. It’s that unoriginal and uncreative.
    The ideas themselves are lame. Weak. Unrefined. Cheap crappy little stories poorly told. Yet people hold them up as if he’s making some amazing social or cultural statement.
    A riot cop’s gun barrel with a flower in it? Give me a f’ing break.
    0% interest in people? Wow. Couldn’t be lamer.
    A little girl frisking a member of the military? ZZzzzzz
    A rat saying where’s Hollywood? ZZzzz
    Bunch of kids playing ring around the rosy around a mushroom cloud? Barf.
    A buckingham black hat peeing on a wall? Please.
    He’s lame. But he’s riding the hipster masses’ desperate need to latch onto something that seems oh so subversive all the way to the bank. And believe me, he’s laughing.

  • http://undefined a healthy disdain

    I dunno about Andy, but those terse dismissals didn’t do much to alleviate my suspicions.
    Just because the style of some of his quick-hit street work might be easily imitated doesn’t mean that it’s unoriginal. It’s relatively easy to imitate a Pollock, but that’s not to say his work wasn’t original for its time.
    Much of Banksy’s work also draws its significance from where it’s physically situatated – so while, yes, you could reproduce a similar image in Photoshop, that really isn’t the point.
    Generally I’d say his “ideas” are anything but weak. You’re unimpressed with the way he expresses them, fair enough.
    Personally, I think your criticisms comes off as lame – but then again I’ve taken about as much effort in knocking you as you seem to have done in knocking Banksy.
    Still, opinions, eh?

  • smasharts

    You are so mean to the hipsters! We have feelings too! Even if we are uh, latching on to whatever you say we are latching on to…… I feel so empty…. thanks for helping us see the evil in the hipster path davedave….

  • Johnnie Walker

    I know exactly what piece you mean, but it’s been there for years, so I doubt it’s Banksy. It’s pretty cool/unexpected for Etobicoke though, huh?

  • http://undefined jacquelineh

    As a fan of Banksy and this type of street art for years, I appreciate this article and pictures being shared with your readers, however you assume that the same people you write for can’t be trusted with the information to go and see and take pictures for themselves. I think that somewhere between “Chinatown” and precise directions you might have deemed Torontoist readers (many of whom are artists and media people, and I think all of whom are above this petty infantalization) fit to appreciate and enjoy it as you have. I hope it stays up for years- but if it’s “chipped away and sold” just as when it’s even more tragically painted over, then that is all part of the life of public art and Banksy’s career trajectory. Thanks for missing the whole point while insulting your readers.

  • http://undefined Erin

    You’re right, somebody else could have created those pieces in photoshop. For heaven’s sake, you could have. But you didn’t. Banksy created the concept and then executed it. Your argument is the same as the art critic who looks at a piece of modern art and then writes it off because “My kid could have done that.”
    Banksy may be making a lot of money off of the mainstream going rabid over his art, but that doesn’t undermine his artistic statement or origins. Remember, Michelangelo was commissioned to do the Sistine Chapel.
    To summarize: Your comments? Barf.

  • http://undefined jacquelineh

    I might have edited my comment (since I had a typo- infantilize)and to be fair, in some cases you do give a few specifics about where to go go and see the pieces, which is appreciated. I do, however, find the tone and assumptions about what would happen if this “insider/public” news were shared to be offensive to your readership.

  • http://undefined spacejack

    Why would you bother celebrating something anyone can do? Shouldn’t art have some magic or wonder to it? I think our standards have become depressingly low.

  • David Topping

    So, to be fair (re: this and this comment)—
    The article says that “we’ve been asked to keep the exact locations private, lest ‘bad intentions’ lead to them being chipped away and sold.” It would not be unreasonable for someone to infer that, maybe, Torontoist got its hands on these photos in exchange for agreeing to not disclose the pieces’ precise locations. Given the alternative (readers, and fans, like you, not seeing any of the new work), I’d suggest that the decision was less about “petty infantalization” of our readers than it was about a more-than-fair thing to promise a source.
    That said, if people were to, say, leave comments on this article with information about where precisely they believed any pieces were located, we would not unpublish those comments (though we would, of course, not confirm whether they were right or not).

  • http://undefined davedave

    Guernica inside a WalMart
    A patient in a hospital bed holding a playstation controller hooked up to the machinery keeping him alive
    Two kids playing catch with a TV with a ball on the screen instead of tossing a real ball
    An oil rig with bird’s legs
    Gee these are so hard to come up with.
    Maybe I should go make some stencils.

  • http://undefined Jonathan R.

    Spadina and Bulwer is the location of the Chinatown Banksy ‘Rat’

  • http://undefined rek

    “…someone doing an awfully good Banksy impression…”
    Banksy does an awfully good Blek Le Rat impression.

  • http://undefined Tanya K

    “0% INTEREST IN PEOPLE.” has already been painted over. :(

  • http://undefined rek

    Please don’t feed the troll.

  • http://undefined davedave

    ‘bad intentions’ lead to them being chipped away and sold.”
    Good lord you people don’t actually believe that Banksy has come here and put these up, do you?
    Just as his little documentary is coming out all these new Banksy pieces of crap start appearing in various cities? Wow what a coincidence.
    So yeah, he’s on a whirlwind tour putting all these up himself. He must be so tired.
    I hope people do spend lots of time and energy trying to remove these banksys without a shred of a clue that banksy had nothing to do with them.
    He’s not an artist – he’s a brand. And a lame one at that.

  • http://undefined davedave

    Maybe the same clowns who put this fake Banksy up to create buzz over the film painted over it themselves to make the hipsters crazy upset and make more buzz.
    Either way, how dare the property owner reclaim his property.

  • http://undefined AR

    Wow, when you come to think about, the vandalism does sound simplistic. But some people love Banksy because they feel he can legitimize the vandalism they enjoy on other people’s properties.

  • http://undefined spacejack

    I guess that’s art too then, no?

  • http://undefined bittles

    that on cherry street on the back of the docks sign was gone when i got down there this afternoon. tried to buy it off the workmen who did the job but they just denied it.

  • http://undefined davedave

    So you actually believe that Banksy came to Toronto and put all these up?

  • http://undefined bmb

    Hey davedave – can you post a link to your original art? cheers.

  • http://undefined DaveDaveDave

    But it’s fun to reply to someone who bitches about an artist creative merit. Let alone someone who is a master at making up witty awesome creative usernames.

  • http://undefined GoinSteady

    haha, Davedave is such an idiot. It’s so fashionable to insult things that many people like… esp. when you give no proper criticism… Banksy is boring? ha! ya, graffiti is a snooze-fest. And I agree with the last post – davedave, please post your original art made easily on photoshop, printed, cut and painted on a wallin Paris, Rome, Toronto and Berlin.

  • http://undefined noizangel

    Weren’t the huge pieces in Regent Park last summer (along Gerrard) Bansky pieces?

  • David Topping
  • http://undefined inscrip

    Couldn’t help but noticed how much you dislike Banksy for you know, being all unoriginal and that stuff, and of course being uncreative… It’s too bad that so much of peoples time is preoccupied with hate, it’s a waste of energy. DaveDave must be spent… Photoshop, honestly? The thing is that Banksy actually got off his butt and computer, went out in the ‘Real World’ and made a dent.
    At least Banksy is able to express himself in a grand scale. He’s not confined to a simple post on a website, which in my mind is unoriginal, uncreative and intangible.
    Get a real job….

  • http://undefined Marc Lostracco

    Banksy’s publicist has confirmed they’re Banksy’s work, BTW.

  • http://undefined bmb

    I may be wrong… Banksy is from Bristol as are the members of Massive Attack. Massive Attack just played 2 shows over the weekend with some time off on Saturday. 3D is a graffiti artist in his spare time…

  • http://undefined chezrobyn

    jeeze davedave, what’s your issue? for thinking banksy is such shit you sure do care a whole lot. if it’s such a waste of time, why are you here? maybe you should make some of your own art, write a poem…relieve some of that negative energy. let the rest of us enjoy the talent that is banksy (and other incredible street artists), and you can go on in search of your own version of ‘original’ art that inspires you, and other things you think are worth your time.

  • http://undefined davedave

    Proper criticism?
    I gave ample reasons why I think he’s a talentless hack: unoriginal style, lame simpleton executions, and butterknife-sharp social/political commentary.
    Maybe you could say what you think is so cool about the examples I gave:
    -Guernica inside a WalMart
    -A patient in a hospital bed holding a playstation controller hooked up to the machinery keeping him alive
    -Two kids playing catch with a TV with a ball on the screen instead of tossing a real ball
    -An oil rig with bird’s legs
    Can’t wait to hear what you think of these executions.

  • http://undefined spiritofeden

    not sure much you guys know about Banksy, but I am surprised that noone has put 2 and 2 together. what band played Sound Academy on Friday night? hmmmmmm……..

  • http://undefined Marci

    Yup, I sure did. I was at the MA show on Friday night. Perhaps he was there as well. I also walked back to Cherry/Polson late Saturday night. It would have been cool if I spotted something.. or someone.

  • http://undefined GoinSteady

    Hahaha. How is describing his work a criticism?
    - Guernica inside a WalMart
    -A patient in a hospital bed holding a playstation controller hooked up to the machinery keeping him alive
    -Two kids playing catch with a TV with a ball on the screen instead of tossing a real ball
    -An oil rig with bird’s legs
    All of these are hilarious. You’re an idiot.

  • http://undefined bmb

    In all seriousness though davedave, feel free to show us your own artistic achievements, be much appreciated. We would be happy to provide feedback.

  • http://undefined spiritofeden

    the one at cherry/polson appeared on friday night, so i can only imagine he was there to see the band, since they are friends. probably stopped and did it after leaving the venue.

  • http://undefined davedave

    Are you sure they’re all hilarious?
    Because only one of them is a real Banksy execution.
    I made up the other 3 in about 5 minutes.
    And I think they all suck.
    Coming up with a Banksy-style concept is painfully easy.
    Christ, is this is how high the bar is for creativity?

  • http://undefined GoinSteady

    Wait, you made them up! Cool! When did you draw them, print large copies of them, cut them, and carry them outside at 4am to paint them
    on a wall? I’d be happy to see. Please post the pictures of your work – I assume you have done this thousands of times and around the world?

  • http://undefined davedave

    Ha ha ha nice backpedaling.
    Given how easy it is to come up with Banksy executions, I’m not surprised you fell for them. Oh well.

  • http://undefined davedave_is_a_fucking_idiot

    davedave seems to know a whole lot about Banksy for a hater?

  • http://undefined GoinSteady

    I suppose sitting on your ass and coming up with an idea is the same thing as creating art – if that’s not logic from an idiot – I don’t know what is … I’m done with this thread. Wasted time.

  • http://undefined Chris Orbz

    Ignore davedave.
    David, I think you meant “question mark” not “quotation mark” in your most recent update? Not to be a grammar fasc’, I read it through fine anyway, just thought I’d point it out.

  • http://undefined emmafromto

    any more hints on where these might be? or are they all getting painted over super quick?

  • David Topping

    Thanks for catching that typo, Chris—fixed now.
    And everyone else: Chris is right. If davedave bugs you, you really are best off ignoring him, since you’re not going to be able to convince him that he sucks, or that Banksy rules.

  • http://undefined davedave

    I suppose sitting on your ass and coming up with an idea is the same thing as creating art – if that’s not logic from an idiot – I don’t know what is … I’m done with this thread. Wasted time.
    MAY 10, 2010 11:26 PM
    That isn’t the point.
    I made up 3 fake ones and you went for them hook, line and sinker.
    You weren’t presented with the art; you were presented with the ideas.
    You used whatever sad tiny speck of imagination that you have to picture them in your mind, and you liked what you saw.
    That they haven’t been made into art yet is completely irrelevant.
    I could make them, put them up and you would think they were Banksys.
    That proves he’s hardly original.
    Sorry to have made you look like an idiot but it had to be done.

  • http://undefined GoinSteady

    It’s too bad they didn’t last longer than a day! I guess that’s what makes it exciting though.

  • http://undefined intrepidacious

    Exciting, yes! I noticed the rat Sunday night at Polson Pier, and thought– what the hell?? That’s a Banksy rat! Is Banksy here in Toronto?! Noooo. Then we debated in the taxi. Btw, there’s a 24-min web doc about TO’s well-known street artists here [ ]. People can familiarize themselves with what’s unique to Toronto, so as not to confuse Banksy with Fauxreel’s work. Loved “Exit” by the way…

  • http://undefined mc5

    fools! davedave is banksy

  • http://undefined smad

    1. Middle-class guy in England in late 90s latches onto zeitgeist for “authenticity”, goes out and makes street art
    2. Said street art is said to be “subversive” for making boilerplate, first-year undergraduate-level criticisms of liberal democracies.
    3. People in London stop caring circa 1999.
    4. 9/11 happens. Many people perceive some personal freedoms to be under threat; suddenly “subversiveness” has new meaning (for awhile)
    5. Banksy fills void by criticizing the war on terror in stencils. Goes to Middle East to doodle on Israeli separation wall. Authenticity meter clicks up a few notches.
    6. Some genius art promoter has a brainwave and puts on gallery show in London’s east end. Some celebrities buy cheap shit with Louis Vuitton logos on it.
    7. UK art market gets a bit tired of the whole thing. Channel 4 releases pitch-perfect parody of the whole thing with Nathan Barley
    8. Post-2005: nobody really gives a shit.
    9. Banksy seeks out new pastures
    10. Comes to Toronto; everybody goes apeshit. Subversive! Edgy! Authentic! He got up at four in the morning and got chased by the cops! But: is his art really that great or original? IMHO: not really.

  • http://undefined smad
  • rek

    Same thing happened in the 70s and 80s.

  • http://undefined Scarletta

    Agreed, stop responding to this DaveDave idiot, no matter how much inane shit he posts. If all he enjoys doing is stirring up asinine arguments online, let him! We can be amused and then actually share good conversation. :)

  • http://undefined 2PintsLager

    How can you ignore davedave! He’s such a genius. Why use the public sphere of the streets to make art on what is really private property – when you can make art criticisms in the private sphere of a comment page that is really public property. This is art that is really critical! If only I could chisel davedaves comments from my screen and display them in some Soho gallery – I would be so rich and so laid right now!

  • http://undefined noizangel

    Thank you!

  • brokenengine

    Jesus. We’re really going to waste this much space arguing about art, which is subjective, and graf at that, which is probably far more subjective than so called “Fine Art”.
    Listen DaveDave: Whether right or wrong, hipsters. are the singularly biggst influence on Art. Always have been. They embrace something underground, and bring it to the forefront, and new art is created as a backlash to the popularity of the previous medium. So, cultural parasites they may be, but necessary to the artistic ebb & flow. You may not like it, but you might as well accept it; I’m sure there was some egyptian with an angular haircut, stroking a cat, looking at the art on a pyramid wall, and saying “Hmph, he was so much more street when he only worked on papyrus”.
    In short, get over yourself.

  • http://undefined Johnny Cash 2.0

    Banksy’s work might not be technically incredible, and the messaging he puts forth can be cliched, but it’s really about OUTPUT with that guy. He’s more driven and devotes way more time to his craft than most artists do, which is partly why he’s getting massive exposure right now.
    Having said that, it seems a bit awkward seeing people taking photos of the Banksy stencil on my office building everyday. Will those same people take photos of other graffiti around the city? Nope. And now someone has bolted plexi-glass around the damn thing. Gimme a break… this is street art, it’s not meant to be permanent. Just take your damn photo and walk away.

  • http://undefined karbon

    Did any of you even WATCH the documentary??
    The moral was that there are people like BANSKY and people like Mr. Brainwash.
    Then there are brainwashed hipster suckers who can’t tell the difference.
    The truth is BANSKY doesn’t care if you like him or not. And that’s what makes him so legit. So desirable. For him to keep anonymous through all of the hype, to not reap the benefits he COULD be reaping… For him to not become a “Mr.Brainwash” and all the while keep you clambering over each other to find answers to his “art” is what is so awesome about him and his work. He’s laughing in your face for being such TRONS. And he’s having fun doing it.
    I love his work and I think though some may call it “unoriginal”, or “boring” he’s still doing this “thing” and if that doesn’t please you, he doesn’t care.
    If it does please you? he still doesn’t care.

  • http://undefined rek

    You’re so edgy.

  • http://undefined ixa

    The piece down on the Lakeshore has been modified by someone. I arrived with a couple of friends as some shadows were leaving and the paint was still fresh.

  • http://undefined Jkayak

    Personally, I don’t think Davedave is an idiot.
    He’s presented his opinion in a lucid (albeit somewhat hostile) manner. The guy doesn’t like Banksy! Who cares? Isn’t art supposed to stir up an emotional response? Aren’t we supposed to talk about our reactions when we see it? Davedave is doing exactly that…it’s just that his reaction was negative. Sure, he comes across as a bit of smart-ass (and kind of a douchebag), but that doesn’t make him a fool. It makes him a person with an opinion. Just like every single other person who’s commented on this board.
    With that being said, I quite like Banksy. I don’t find his ideas unoriginal. I enjoy that he’s taken the time to synthesis his thoughts into a process and created art that makes people talk. The fact that his process is simple is irrelevant. The fact that it’s easy to imitate is inspiring. I’m sorry that Davedave doesn’t see the same things I do when he looks at a Banksy. But I really don’t see the point in dwelling on it.
    Let’s all just calm down and enjoy the show before the whole shebang gets painted over.

  • http://undefined Jkayak

    Also, Davedave, I thought your made-up Banksy pieces were pretty cool. You should do something with them!

  • http://undefined karbon

    Thanks I guess?

  • blogreaction

    Yeah it’s sad that people have to destroy good work.

  • TrainBenchKingYo

    Ugh… whoever keeps buffing this wall is clearly a stupid idiot who is getting no where positively but is instead WASTING time and money trying to stop an art form that will never stop. Lol… just pathetic.

  • TrainBenchKingYo

    Ugh… whoever keeps buffing this wall is clearly a stupid idiot who is getting no where positively but is instead WASTING time and money trying to stop an art form that will never stop. Lol… just pathetic.

  • Gilded Pauper