A Toronto exhibit featuring the work of street artist Banksy got turned on its head this week when a Canadian artist got in and hung his own artwork on the wall.
Tharanga Ramanayake put up his work titled Free-For-All in the Art of Banksy exhibit.
“I stuck around. I saw people laughing at it, taking pictures of it. They obviously knew it didn’t fit,” said Ramanayake.
As the Toronto-based artist explained on Twitter, his small illustration shows an art exhibit with a roadblock in front of it and a sign that says “Admission $35.”
A slate next to the work reads, “Theft is bringing street art inside and then charging an admission fee.”
“It really was a homage to the genius, the artist that is Banksy,” said Ramayake.
“Street art is meant to be free. It’s public art, but now it’s been brought indoors and they’re charging an admission fee for it.”
The Art of Banksy exhibit acknowledged the stunt in a Facebook post, pointing out that it was a clear reference to a similar stunt Banksy himself reportedly pulled at a number of galleries in New York in 2005.
Organizers of the exhibit also added that they won’t be taking any action against Ramanayake.
“At the end of the day what he did is harmless,” said Corey Ross with Starvoz Entertainment.
“He didn’t harm any of the patrons or any of the art.”
Ross also pushed back on the apparent criticism of charging an entrance fee to view otherwise free street art.
“Our exhibit consists entirely of art that Banksy designed for exhibits, and which he himself has sold to private collectors to fund the work he does in the public domain,” Ross explained.
Now he hopes other local artists won’t get the same idea and try to copy the stunt.
“I don’t know if there’s as much fun in doing the stunt if you’re the second guy to do it,” said Ross.
Meanwhile, many Banksy fans were taken by Ramanayake’s art stunt, as well as its clear criticism of the unauthorized and ticketed exhibit of Bansky’s work.
WATCH: A Toronto artist pulled off a stunt inspired by his favourite artist — sticking his own art piece up at the Banksy exhibit in protest of charging for street art. Kamil Karamali reports.
— With files from Kamil Karamali