If you missed seeing one of the three sculptures by internationally acclaimed street artist Mr. Brainwash during the BOLD festivities in August, you’re still in luck.
Mr. Brainwash is the moniker used by Thierry Guetta, the French-born, Los Angeles-based artist who rose to prominence as a protégé of Banksy after appearing in his film “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” At the time, Guetta was a security-guard turned proprietor of a used clothing store and an amateur videographer. He was introduced to Banksy by his cousin, Invader, another filmmaker and street artist who also hit the scene a few decades ago.
Mind-bending, vibrant pop meets graffiti-style paintings by Mr. Brainwash span from reworked copyrighted images of icons such as Jimmy Hendrix with psychedelic hair to Michael Jackson superimposed into an iconic Warhol of Marilyn Monroe. There’s also a tongue-in-cheeky work portraying President Obama in a Superman costume.
It’s a body of work that has taken Mr. Brainwash from street art to album covers for the likes of Madonna and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
For his Beverly Hills BOLD venture, the artist created bright red works bearing positive messages, such as “Life is Beautiful” and “Beverly Hills is Life.”
The installations are currently located in three different locations around the city from Camden Drive at Santa Monica Boulevard South to Rodeo Drive at Dayton Way.
Those fixtures will remain up through the holidays, with the slight exception of the Beverly Canon Gardens piece, “Beverly Hills is Beautiful,” which, according to the City of Beverly Hills, might be moved to another location when the holiday lighting is installed before the BOLD Holidays kick-off on Nov. 14.
The Courier met up with Mr. Brainwash during opening festivities for BOLD.
BHC: Why did you want to be involved with the BOLD event in Beverly Hills this year?
MBW: I wanted to bring happiness and expand my time to bring people together to have fun and enjoy. I represent positivity and colorfulness and my direction is the same [as BOLD]. This is how I see myself so, we completely understand each other.
BHC: What is the story behind your artistic name?
MBW: In the 90’s I used to take all the brands [slogans] and change it. Like Nike Just Do It I already did it!
Toys R Us Boyz R Nuts. I was doing something for fun. Years later when I started doing the street art, I used the name, but I only used only the letters MBW. In the beginning everybody knew me as this. When I started going more to fine art, I started signing the full name. There are many names that come around you in life and I feel this is something that was meant to be.
BHC: How would you explain this to people who don’t necessarily “subscribe” to this type of art?
MBW: This is something that I think about life. We are all brainwashed. Every one of us. Your car, the way you walk, the food you eat, everything is about brainwash and branding. Over time this made sense with everything that I’m trying to do, to bring positivity and a good message. Trying to tell people never give up. Life is beautiful. Love is beautiful. When you have positivity, everything becomes beautiful. When people come to Beverly Hills, it’s a moment in this town and it’s special and the whole world knows about it. I feel proud and I’m honored to be working with the city and be able to do what I’m doing now. I don’t know if the sculptures will stay forever. But I want to give the best for them and the people. When you are standing next to the sculpture and taking a photo you feel beautiful.
BHC: What distinguishes your work from other street artists?
MBW: I’m more like a pop artist. I started in the street because in the beginning, I needed to communicate with people. In the end it’s art – pop, street, contemporary – and I feel that the art is not only what you do it’s what you are.
When you think about Pollock, Marcel Duchamp, Picasso or Basquiat it’s about their character in the end. When we think about the art we think about the personality. Someone like Van Gogh never sold anything but he is still one of the most important artists in the world. In the end, time really tells the truth. You have to really believe in who you are. When you’re an artist you live your life as an art.
BHC: Are you still in touch with Banksy?
MBW: I don’t know who you are talking about (laughs.) Who’s that? There is Wells Fargo, or if you want, Bank of America, just look outside.
BHC: What do you feel has been your greatest contribution so far or favorite work?
MBW: It’s people. That is my favorite work. To see people, to connect with them. The happiness of it. This is the art that makes me continue. It’s not something that stays but lives.