Reproducing other artists’ work is ‘honouring’ them, says Mr Brainwash


He is an amateur street artist-turned-professional who counts the Obamas, late comic book legend Stan Lee, and the Pope among his high-profile fans.

Known as Mr Brainwash, he insists he is paying tribute to artists such as Banksy, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons by reproducing their work.

“You are kind of honouring them… because there are some pieces that you cannot get; it’s impossible, so I think of it it as loving and sharing.”

First lady Michelle Obama looks to artist Mr. Brainwash during a live painting of a Let Girls Learn mural at Union Market in Washington, Tuesday, March 8, 2016. Pic: AP
Michelle Obama pictured with Mr Brainwash at a Let Girls Learn mural in 2016. Pic: AP

Mr Brainwash, who was born in France and lives in Los Angeles, found fame in Banksy’s documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop. In it, the prolific graffiti artist, with his identity hidden in shadow, said: “This guy tried to make a documentary about me – but he’s actually a lot more interesting than I am.”

The man Banksy referred to in the documentary is Mr Brainwash, whose real name is Thierry Guetta.

Guetta’s starring role in the academy award-nominated film catapulted him from amateur videographer and used clothing store owner to a global pop-artist who has sold millions of pounds worth of work.

Talking to Sky News at Clarendon Fine Art Gallery in Covent Garden, the impact of the film was not lost on Guetta.

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“Twelve years later, I can meet some people in the street and they say ‘Oh my God, I just saw the movie yesterday’… and I’m like, it’s 12 years ago… and you just keep going and keep going.”

Kobe Bryant memorial mural at Sparadise La Brea at 1251 St. La Brea Ave., Sunday, Feb 16, 2020, in Los Angeles. The mural, created street artist Thierry Guetta aka Mr. Brainwash, showcases Bryant and his daughter Gigi Bryant
Mr Brainwash is behind this memorial mural for basketballer Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi, who died in a helicopter crash. Pic: AP

He added: “It was incredible. I mean, it’s a journey that, you know, it’s like when you have dream and live… something you think is not possible.”

But he points out that Mr Brainwash’s potential global appeal and success was always within Thierry Guetta, even before Banksy focused the lens on him.

“It didn’t change my life, but it continued my life because… you know, my life’s always been, you know, since I’m a kid… they call me crazy.”

Once just a part of Banksy’s art, the man also known as Thierry Guetta is now a bona fide artist in his own right. And with show-stopping exhibitions and a celebrity fan base many would envy, Mr Brainwash’s future looks bright.

“I feel like I want to give a lot more. This is really like the beginning of what I want to give,” he said.

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