Banksy: Genius or Vandal?

An Unauthorized Exhibition of Artworks From Private Collections by the Artist Known as Banksy

I had been looking forward to this exhibition for months, but had been unable to go due to COVID-19. The restrictions in Tokyo and Yokohama began to be lifted at the end of May, so I set off to see Bansky: Genius or Vandal on Sunday June 7th, 2020.

The venue is directly connected to the South-East exit of Yokohama Station, but we came out of the station via the East exit and got to see the colourful exterior of the Asobuild building.

The Exhibition

Banksy is an anonymous artist from the UK, who has been active for over twenty years in various forms. His most famous works are street graffiti, but he’s also an accomplished print-maker who uses stenciling to create crisp, impactful images. A lot of his work is politically relevant, and he has a strong sense of social justice, which comes across well in his works.

The exhibition showed a range of works, including screen prints, films, album art and photographs of graffiti in situ. The exhibition had very complete explanations in Japanese and English, and a downloadable audio guide was also available for use on smartphones with headphones.

As a fan of Banksy since my early teens, it was a joy to see so much of his work in one place. It was the first time I had been to an exhibition of Banksy’s work, and the explanations certainly helped to give perspective on his work and techniques.

The exhibition felt timely, as Banksy has been in the international news recently thanks to showing his support of the anti-racism and Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the world, following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. “At first I thought I should just shut up and listen to black people about this issue. But why would I do that? It’s not their problem, it’s mine,” Banksy wrote on his Instagram on June 6th.

I applaud Banksy for his public stance, and this his exhibition really brought home the extent to which Bansky has been pushing for change through his artwork for so long. Besides being technically well made and interesting in its variety, his work is incredibly powerful and thought-provoking. I enjoyed the exhibition very much, and left with a renewed sense of awe at his creative vision and the conviction with which he delivers it.

Visiting During COVID-19

The exhibition is taking various actions to ensure that everything is safe; tickets can only be purchased online in-advance, and there is no onsite box-office. When you book a ticket, you reserve a slot of time in which to visit to make sure that there are never too many people at the exhibition.

The number of people entering the exhibition was supposedly severely limited. However, it did feel very crowded, and sometimes people would be uncomfortably closely bunched together to view certain small pieces. The crowding, however, was worst in the first two rooms, and thinned out thereafter. I think it is a matter of personal discretion whether or not to visit. Choosing a less popular slot is probably the best plan to avoid people.


Dates: March 15th – September 27th, 2020
Address: ASOBUILD, 2-14-9, Takashima, Nishi-ku Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa, 220-0011, JAPAN
Venue website:
Tickets and Information on Visiting during COVID-19: