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Who really painted Banksy’s Devolved Parliament?

There are vast amounts of press stories regarding Banksy’s 2009 painting ‘Devolved Parliament’ at the moment. Why? Well because on 28th September 2019, London’s famous auction house, Sotheby’s will be putting it on display… until, it goes under the hammer on October 3rd, with an expected price tag of around £1.5m.

The question we’re asking is, did he really paint it?

There’s no denying the fact that ‘Devolved Parliament’ is a great piece of work. We love the concept, it’s easy to see the point being made. It fits in perfectly with Banksy’s previous messages of disillusionment and cynicism. But, and in our opinion, it’s a big but… ‘Devolved Parliament’ is so wonderfully painted. The detail, the lighting, the grandness of the piece just doesn’t seem to fit with Banksy’s other works… aside from the message, the painting itself just doesn’t feel like a Banksy.

Looking at previous works by the mysterious stencil artist, and there’s plenty of them. None comes close to the skill shown in this 2009 piece. Yes, he has used chimps before in his work. Most famously his ‘Laugh Now’ stencil featured one holding a banner with the phrase ‘laugh now, but one day we will be in charge’. But this was crude in comparison. In fact, compared to ‘Devolved Parliament’, all his work appears crudely executed. But that’s what we love about Banksy’s art, his simplicity. His ability to strike with a powerful message with his stencils.

Now that’s not to say we don’t like ‘Devolved Parliament’. We absolutely love it. We wish we’d thought of it… and to be honest we don’t deny that, based on Banksy’s portfolio, this is certainly a strong Banksy-esque concept. We’re just not convinced he/she/they painted it.

One could argue that obviously Banksy wouldn’t have the time to paint something like this on the streets. We, of course, agree, but this painting was produced 10 years ago and in that time nothing else with a Banksy name attached (even non-street, gallery pieces) has come close to the skill shown in this one.

So ‘if’ Banksy didn’t paint ‘Devolved Parliament’, who did? And, does this actually matter?

If, in fact, it turns out Banksy didn’t paint this masterpiece (which we’re convinced he didn’t) who did? As we said at the start, the endless articles online seem to simply accept Banksy did. No one seems to be raising the question at all. Maybe people don’t care? As long as Banksy has put their name to it then a hefty price tag is ensured.

In fact, the only place this question has been raised, apart from here, is on Facebook via an interesting, mysterious and very talented painter Mason Storm. The always balaclava clad artist, in a recent post, eluded to the fact this wasn’t painted by Banksy and even hinted to the idea that it was painted by himself. Whether this is true or not is up for debate. When looking at Mason’s own paintings you can certainly conclude he most definitely has the skill set to produce this piece on Banksy’s behalf.

Facebook post from Mason Storm implying he in fact painted Banksy's Devolved Parliament
The mysterious Mason Storm eludes to the idea he may have in fact painted this iconic painting on Banksy’s behalf

Mason Storm loves to shroud himself in mystery and seems to thoroughly enjoy dropping clues of his background, his circle of contacts etc so it wouldn’t be implausible for this to be true.

Mr Storm isn’t the only one who has been targeted as the talent behind the painting others include an ‘at the time’ recent art graduate and a high-end commercial studio.

It wouldn’t be the first time and it won’t be the last.

If it is true it wouldn’t be the first time a famous artist has used someone else to create their pieces. Both Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol have openly admitted to using assistants to create work for them. This has caused great debates within the art world, raising the question of authenticity, authorship and the true value of the work.

As Mason Storm points out, “It’s a thorny question authorship, Hirst, Emin, Koons et al all have people to realise their concepts, why not Banksy? The thing is, actually creating something physically means a totally different thing to being the creator. Sir Christopher Wren never laid a brick but St. Paul’s is always referred to as his greatest building”.

Here at CreativeFolk, we agree, we believe it really shouldn’t matter who produced the piece. If we had an idea for an artwork and then asked someone to produce it for us, does that make it less our idea or our artwork? For us, the idea or concept is what makes a great artist. Yes, the execution of that idea is important and like Banksy, if we have the funds, contacts etc to have someone execute that idea for us then why not? Based on all the other ‘authentic’ Banksy art out there it seems unlikely that this was indeed painted by the famous street artist.

But we guess the truth will never come out.

In the end ‘Devolved Parliament’ is a wonderfully powerful painting, and with the never-ending Brexit debacle is more apt than ever. Now we’ll wait and see just how much someone is willing to pay for a non-Banksy Banksy painting.

UPDATE: Since this article was published, Banksy’s ‘Devolved Parliament’ went under the hammer and sold for a whopping £9,879,500. This record breaking figure is over 6 times the estimate of £1,500,000!!!

For more information on Banksy etc here’s some links to keep you going:

CreativeFolk article on Banksy’s new Gross Domestic Product Shop
A look at social commentary art
Evening Standard article on Devolved Parliament
Banksy’s website

11 Comments Leave A Reply

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11 thoughts on “Who really painted Banksy’s Devolved Parliament?

  1. I am a Facebook friend of Mason Storm and have bought his work and followed his incredible breathtaking work for years. I believe Devolved Parliament is by Mason Storm not Banksy it has Mr Storm’s fine art
    and style and humour all over the piece. I do hope the truth is revealed.

    1. Hi Ann,

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. As we stated in the article, it’s certainly plausible Mason is behind this great piece. Mason is an amazing artist who we’ve admired for a long time so it wouldn’t come as a surprise. Whether the truth comes out, we guess only time will tell.

      Thanks again for commenting.

  2. 😀 😀 😀 Who cares who painted it…..what happened to the fucking mahoosive pair of chandeliers…..there used to be two massive and glowing bright white FUCK OFF PAIR OF CHANDELIERS hanging from the ceiling….centre stage…you couldnt miss them, well until they arent there I guess….Why is no-one talking about that it’s not the same painting as displayed in Bristol (Pest Control…in true Viz style did I win the competition do I win £5?)….he’s still got the original….maybe he or possibly someone else. who knows? (Well the standard reply at these times is, or so I am led to believe…Mason knows, but I digress) was quietly knocking off the copy of the original…still got the chandeliers to do, deadline 10am tomorrow morning and an old mate from out of town phones and says he’s in London for one night “lets get shit faced and talk shit” and he thinks “fuck it….noone will notice…”….and they didnt….but I’m autistic I notice these things :D….as I said to the honourable lady above I’m starting to feel like the fella at the ending of Invasion of the Body Snatchers but just shouting “will noone listen to me…..where did they go…the chandeliers…where did they go and why cant anyone else see that…for the love of God….please let someone see….” https://youtu.be/WuL2QwsNeM8?t=115…..nurse says it’s time for my meds…

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. You raised a very interesting point, and something that we hadn’t noticed (shame on us). Having checked Sotheby’s website, their statement, which you can view in full here – https://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2019/contemporary-art-evening-auction-l19024/lot.28.html under catalogue notes, includes the following…

      The work was executed a decade ago and first exhibited in the ground-breaking Banksy versus Bristol Museum exhibition, which took place at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery in 2009, famously attracting over 300,000 visitors. Entitled Question Time at the time of the show, the painting has since been reworked by the artist and more recently retitled. Once glowing, the Commons’ lamps have been snuffed-out by Banksy, while the upturned banana of an ape in the foreground now faces downwards; atop these and other subtle adjustments, the painting also bears a new name: Devolved Parliament. Exhibited under this title, the present work returned to the spotlight in a timely exhibition at the Bristol museum which debuted just prior to 29th March: the date originally intended to mark Britain’s exit from the European Union. So-termed Brexit Day, the repeated deferral of this date, most recently to 31st October, makes Banksy’s prophetic and sardonically humorous Devolved Parliament ever more pertinent.

      Hope it helps 🙂

      The CreativeFolk Team

      PS: Having said all that, we spoke to Mason Storm who claims that there are, or were in fact 3 versions but one was ‘destroyed’. We love the mystery around this piece and either way still aren’t convinced ‘Banksy’ painted this or any of the other versions… if that part of the story is true.

      1. I have to agree with Mason on the whole creator and, lets title the role, actuator symbiosis. Were the Motown singers geniuses or was it the music written by Carole King for Motown where the true genius lay???
        The question has to boil down to one thing….who in the UK today would have the talent to paint this and when you combine that with Ann’s suggestion (since edited out) that Mason is possibly the UK’s best living artist….I will say only this…When the discussion for “Who is the UK’s best living artist for painting talent alone” then Mason’s name is far more likely to be brought up than mine, well I work with sound not paint so that’s obvious but you get the picture. ….I will finish by saying that all the pieces of the puzzle are there as to why it could be Mason if you follow the timeline of their interactions and because of that I’m going to say I’m 95% sure it’s by his hand. The other 5% is on the likes of John Myatt, Fine Art Studio et al
        ……well I say 95%……lets make it 99%….

        Question for you….Have Pest Control turned up with a briefcase full of cash yet to ask you to delete this page yet? Dont worry, you can take it….I’ve downloaded a copy of it…

        1. It really is intriguing, and for us, we were just surprised that literally no other website/blog has even questioned it. We’ve seen an amazing spike in traffic to this article so clearly people are curious. Whether the truth will ever be revealed is another question, and to be honest we don’t have an issue with who actually painted it. As you rightly point out there are plenty of examples of geniuses who hide in the shadows, while others claim the glory. It’s just weird how no one else seems to even raise the topic.

          With regards to Pest Control… no one has come knocking on the door… yet 🙂

          Thanks for your thoughts, and raising the issue on the idea that there’s more than one version.


          The CreativeFolk Team

  3. I have oil sketches by Mason Storm of Devolved Parliament…….exactly the same as the Banksy !

  4. Having looked at other apes Mason Storm has painted, I personally have zero doubt that Divolved Parliament/s, (as your blog suggests that at one time there were 3, now 2), is/are painted by Mason Storm. Look at their intricate features, the answer is right there imo.

    Sure Banksy may have added the odd banana, or put a bit of paint on maybe. Then I guess he can say he “painted it” without it being a total fib. Well, kind of.

    Of course Banksy or “Team Banksy” are incredibly talented individual/s. It’s just that comparing Banksy’s art to this to me is like chalk & cheese.

    This has to be the worst kept “secret” of the high end art world lol? Don’t get me wrong, I love Banksy’s work and the humour & messages portrayed in it. It’s beautiful. But let’s be honest, Divolved Parliament is in another league. A league I’ve not seen in any of Banksy’s other work.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if one day all will be revealed officially. Given the money it sold for, we’ll all probably be long kicking up the daisies by then haha.

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