Selected Works

A provocative figure in the world of street art, Mr. Brainwash practices an irreverent brand of appropriation characterized by the use of copyrighted images from history, popular culture, and art history. The artist subtly alters the picture or its context, mischievously undermining the tone of the source material. Brainwash, a pseudonym for Thierry Guetta, is known for producing massive spectacles to display his art. He came to prominence through mounting large-scale public projects in his current home of Los Angeles and as the main figure in the Banksy-directed film Exit Through the Gift Shop. His work hinges on the idea that anything is possible in his practice. “Art has no walls. Anybody can be an artist,” he says. “Art has no rules. There’s no manual.”

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Mr. Brainwash was born in Garges-lès-Gonesse, Paris, France in 1966, but relocated to Los Angeles with his father and several siblings when he was 15, after his mother passed away. The artist attended Fairfax High school for about a year, but later dropped out and began to organize events around Hollywood.

Mr. Brainwash later delved into business and sold vintage clothes in Los Angeles, New York, and Miami, making substantial money in the process. His interest in graffiti was spurred by a visit to France in 1999, where he learned that his cousin was the infamous street artist Space Invader. Having developed a knack for filming, Mr. Brainwash started to record the nightly escapades of Invader and other street artists, such as Shepard Fairey, whose OBEY posters appear in many cities across the globe, and the mysterious Zevs. At that time, there were no plans to release the videos documenting the graffiti artists at work.

In 2009, Mr. Brainwash met with Banksy and assisted him in launching his Los Angeles show ‘Barely Legal’, which was attended by notable celebrities and art collectors. The two artists afterwards decided to make a documentary detailing life in the secretive graffiti art scene. The documentary would include shots of Invader taken by Banksy and Mr. Brainwash himself. The result was the Oscar-nominated documentary Exit through the Gift Shop, which debuted at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The film depicts the meteoric rise of Mr. Brainwash in the street art scene, with some of his works, such as the portrait of Jim Morrison, selling for US$100,000, and his Charlie Chaplin painting estimated to be worth between $50,000 and 70,000. Following the success of the film, Mr. Brainwash gained massive following with his exhibitions such as the one held at the Opera Gallery, London, selling out within two days. Musicians such as Madonna and the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers are also fond of the artist; Mr. Brainwash has been hired for several promotional projects.

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