No graffiti artist can compare. Banksy’s influence over popular culture is unmatched. His name is ubiquitous. Even more captivating—nobody really knows who he is.
Starting from the early 2000’s, the anonymous artist quickly amassed a global following through his satirical, poignant guerilla art, which often employed graffiti stencils. This unique style entered the mainstream awareness, and Banksy’s work is now a staple example of modern art.
Recently, Banksy made news with his documentary, Exit Through The Gift Shop, which received an Academy Award nomination. He also caught attention in 2015 with his secret pop-up art exhibition Dismaland, a “bemusement park” that provided a “sinister twist” on Disneyland.
In addition to street art, Banksy has also sold select amounts of private works. But short of chopping off a chunk of a building, interested buyers have limited options. One of these options is the OC/LA based Hexagon Gallery, which specializes in rare Banksy works.
Ryland Behrens, the figure behind the gallery, worked as the director for Ace Gallery and Ace Museum before opening up his own place. Behrens “make(s) no claim to understand the meaning behind Banksy’s work as he seems them”, but finds “the cheek and rapier wit within his art to be unconventional and refreshing.”
“I started accumulating so much of his work,” Behrens says, “that I decided to launch my own gallery focusing primarily on his art.”
Behrens joined us for a little chat about Banksy, art, Hexagon Gallery, and working from ROC.
What was it about Banksy that grabbed your attention more than other artists, and led you to open a gallery specializing in his work?
His artwork isn’t hiding behind any pretenses; he takes a position and is not afraid to articulate it or attack some social value openly. What keeps me arrested still is that he has woven himself into the fabric of society on his own terms, specifically by not following the rules of the art world. He is a reminder of what you can accomplish with dissent, what you can change with your authenticity, and of the power you have with only a can of aerosol and a blank wall. He is today what Warhol was in the 60s and 70s. The work itself is very approachable and he is a completely singular, once in a generation artist.
The idea to start up my own gallery really came out of necessity (laughs). I have been in the art business for so many years helping high net worth individuals get into this blue-chip asset class for other galleries I realized that it was time for me to realize my own goals and potential. Like Banksy, I was ready to receive and wanted to be successful on my own terms.
Do you have a favorite Banksy piece?
Oh, absolutely. My favorite painting would be the Burger King Kid or the Trolley Hunters painting. When it comes to his prints, the Nola would win hands down.
Hexagon Gallery also connects clients with other artists. What are some artists you have sold in the past?
Who haven’t I sold (laughs). I have closed 7 and 8 figure transactions on works by Jean Michel Basquiat, Pablo Picasso, Richard Diebenkorn, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, Agnes Martin, Gerhard Richter, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, Lucian Freud and many others. These are the über-discreet transactions you hear about when you think of this opaque and exclusive industry. I place work into collections by contemporary and emerging artists as well.
If you could add any single item to your personal art collection, what would it be?
The Three Name Givers, by Odd Nerdrum, or The Field Next to the Other Road, by Jean Michel Basquiat.
How have you enjoyed working from The Vine?
The Vine ROC is great. Being the blue-chip art firm I am an odd-duck of sorts with all the tech companies here, however, there is no shortage of support and welcoming energy. I checked out a couple of the locations and knew right away the Vine OC had the right vibe and I couldn’t be happier. There is a real sense of community here and if you take advantage of all of the available tools and workshops they offer your experience is unparalleled. The free beer doesn’t hurt either (laughs).
Check out the Banksy’s and Ryland’s other curated picks at the Hexagon Gallery site.