Andy Warhol, the American pop-art icon of the 1960s, once described art as “anything you can get away with.” In the case of anonymous English street artist Banksy, that would just about sum this incident up. 

Art, as everyone knows, is in the wallet of the beholder. And its fans at an auction house in the United Kingdom were left speechless after a Banksy painting self destructed immediately after it was sold for 1.4 million pounds sterling (RM7.3 million).

The elusive artist known as Banksy began his career, such as it was, by spray-painting graffiti art, often in a distinctive, almost iconic, style that so captivated collectors that they actually took it off walls to sell as reproductions. 

That may not have gone down too well with the notoriously touchy Mr Banksy. Already he thought most people felt jealous because the voices only talked to him. 

But please don’t get me wrong. The artist did not suffer from biploar disorder. He enjoyed every minute of it. But he had his suspicions about pretty much everyone else and thought most people should be sent to Turkmenistan. 

And he knew his suspicions were well founded which was why even at home, and alone on his exercise bicycle, he kept an eagle eye on the bike’s rear view mirror…

…just in case. His friends knew and understood him well enough to know not to interrupt him when he was talking to himself.

But the artist did not care for galleries auctioning off his work without his permission. So he listened to the voices until 9 out of 10 agreed that the way forward was shredding. 

A hidden shredder inside the painting’s frame went off shortly after the work was sold at Sotheby’s in London in October last year. The work was pulled down through a shredding mechanism at the bottom of the frame and was promptly ripped into pieces.

This defiant act was actually orchestrated by Mr Banksy. It appeared as though the artist himself was present at the auction house, as he posted a photo to Instagram of the half-shredded painting with the caption, “Going, going, gone…”

The painting is a reproduction of one of the most iconic graffiti murals Banksy had ever produced. The original version of the image was spray painted onto a building in East London back in 2002. It was removed in 2014 after it had been covered up by boards for a number of years.

After the public witnessed the jaw-dropping demonstration, Banksy explained the stunt on social media. He wrote that he had secretly built the shredder in the painting a number of years ago in the event that it was put up for auction. When that day finally came, his elaborate stunt was realized, leaving auctioneers speechless.

But the joke could be on Banksy. 

Artist Isaiah King said in the Los Angeles Times: “If he was a lesser artist, he would have destroyed the art’s value. But because it’s Banksy it will only be worth more now.”

There’s irony for you and it was a red rag to Banksy’s bull. The auction houses should watch out.

Because long ago, the artist had decided that the way forward was a simple one liner: never settle with words what you can settle with a flamethrower. 

Portrait Of An Artist As A Young Pig

Francis Bacon might have been charmed. 

A pig in South Africa can paint artwork that actually sells so her handlers have -obviously – named her Pigcasso. 

Brandishing a paintbrush in her snout, Pigcasso enthusiastically tosses her head to create bright, bold strokes across a canvas propped up in her sty. 

Her story is not an uncommon one as pig stories go but, in her case, there was always going to be a twist in the tale. 

The animal was rescued from an abattoir as a piglet, thus avoiding a fate worse than bacon. She was then brought to an animal sanctuary in Franschhoek, in South Africa’s Western Cape region in 2016, where her new owners noticed her love of colour and paintbrushes. 

The last line is from the original Reuters report. How on earth the owners could have discerned the pig’s leanings is unclear but who knows? Maybe the porcine painter confided in them. 

As pigs are known to be smart animals, its new owners wondered how to keep the sow from getting boared in her barn.  

“We threw in some soccer balls, rugby balls and of course there were some paintbrushes lying around because the barn was newly build,” said Joanne Lefson who ran the sanctuary. “She basically ate or destroyed everything except these paintbrushes … she loved them so much.” 

Soon the pig was dipping the brushes into pots of paint and making her mark. Her paintings can sell for almost $4,000. 

At this point dear reader, you will just have to suspend disbelief and simply remember that it was Picasso who made the remark about good taste being “the enemy of creativity.” 

Chalk one up to the artist. The proceeds of her paintings generally go to animal welfare causes so you could even call her philanthropig.

“Pigcasso is definitely an abstract expressionist, you can’t exactly define what she’s painting but I can tell you that her style slightly changes depending on her mood like any great artist,” said Lefson. 

The critics secretly thought it was hogwash but it was an endearing story and they figured they’d let it pass. 

Pigcasso herself was unimpressed: she felt the world didn’t make sense so why should she paint stuff that did? She thought about the abattoir and shuddered: there but for the grace of Lefson went sausages, she thought and felt that art was distinctly preferable.

In between her dalliances with the canvas, she exhibited a puckish sense of humour.  She especially delighted in hiding behind a bush and leaping out at unwary visitors to startle them. 

She took great delight in these hambushes.

Meanwhile, the swinish sketcher has been going from strength to strength. 

Pigcasso has even had one of her artworks turned into a watch face for Swiss watchmaker Swatch. 

Swatch announced a collaboration with the pig last month. 

 The limited edition “Flying Pig by Ms. Pigcasso” features green, blue and pink brush strokes and sells for $120. 

No one knows what it means or if it means anything at all but, hey, remember what Andy Warhol said. 

Art is anything you can get away with.