A painting of the House of Commons overrun with chimpanzees. It is one of the most well-known pieces created by Banksy, a British graffiti artist. It is a large oil painting almost four-meters-wide and was sold for about 15 billion won in an auction in 2019. Why did Banksy paint chimpanzees? Why does the painting have such a high value?
The U.K. graffiti artist gained global fame with his satire graffiti. When the painting was made, a sense of crisis was rising among the British due to the uncertainties of the Euro zone’s economy and refugee issues in the midst of the global financial crisis and the EU’s financial crisis. In addition, people’s dissatisfaction with the lack of democratic procedures has been accumulated as the U.K. did not hold a referendum during its integration into the EU.
The painting features 100 chimpanzees taking over the British House of Commons. The hall is filled with high-pitch voices and madness, rather than passionate discussions, and the chimpanzee in the chair for the head is standing without even opening the documents he brought. Some chimpanzees on the floor are pointing fingers at the head and raising their voices. According to Jane Goodall who had studied chimpanzees in Africa for over 40 years, they are the most similar to humans among all animals. They use tools and have a dark side for killing their own kind. She said chimpanzees are a lot more like humans than we think.
The painting was put up for an auction on Oct. 3, 2019. While Brexit was decided in the 2016 referendum, the British parliament could not make decisions and postponed Brexit for several years while making political calculations. The painting, which satirizes the political situation, was sold for the highest price among the artist’s pieces when it was put up for an auction before the scheduled date of Brexit.
The painting’s title is “Question Time.” It seems like Banksy who said, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable,” is asking who would be the most disturbed by chimpanzees taking over the House of Parliament.