Graffiti has brought a judgment of low form of art in this reviewer. No reason than its mere existence in rundown places. But the idea has fascinated me and the cleverness has brought chuckles. Here the film directed by a purist street artist Banksy provides the life story of Thierry Gutta, a French immigrant in Los Angeles. A man with disheveled hair and a solid resemblance of Ron Jeremy invites judgments from the people he meets. Beyond the appearance he follows everywhere with a video camera to add to the creep factor. The obsession to film the details of his life takes him into unpredictable arena of street art.
Thierry got the entry into this strange art form through his cousin nicknamed Invader who pastes and paints tiles of space invaders in random places around the city. Thierry is fascinated by this and these arts pasted in darkness and secrecy needs a witness and that witness becomes him with his camera. He shoots everything and becomes integrated in the process. He comes back to LA and begins collaborating with the well known artists. One such is Shepard Fairey. A young man mildly surprised and suspicious on this new character tagging along to film these adventures of art vandalism.
The first art show I went was in Seattle. There were paintings that meant nothing and there were which like poetry brought in a sensation. I did not make much of it than to say that I visited an art gallery. After couple of years, I went to Denver Art Museum. I truly experienced modern display of art of an unknown kind. Lavish use of colours and daring images making statements getting personal interpretations. All those arts are a reflection of the viewer. You see what you want to see and becomes a personal statement. The true meaning of it which did not occur to me that time happened after the phenomenon of Thierry Gutta went through in this documentary.
Thierry Gutta is not a skilled artist. He was not born with great abilities to move his fingers to sketch detailed and collaborative arts. He obsessed over his instincts and impulses to film these people. He admired and adored them. He worshipped Banksy who remains a secret artist. He gains his trust and blessing. But the people who met Thierry did not make much of him. May be that is the sole reason they let him into this world.
While Thierry does get inspired by these artists, there is something bothering even us as an audience in his sky rocketing success in the end. He does not come across as a talented individual to pull off something like this. I think it is more than that which is he removed the method from the method in madness. He wandered off crazily and made a buzz and hype that structured the stardom to his show. He pulled the screens off to show that despite talent there is programming of people’s expectation in media and publicity. That sociological statement stunned the street artists who were thoroughly against it. The pure nature of their untainted and anti-capitalistic art got dragged into the dirty game of publicity.
“Exit through the Gift Shop” directed by Thierry’s mentor Banksy is not a disgruntled attempt but does a smooth and swift job of the startling nature in which Thierry got into this world as an observer and soon becoming a participant and a star. Even I was not expecting that. It appear to bring back faint memories of “Man on the Wire” in the way the street artists lurk around in dark to express themselves. The film is not about the journey but about the opinion we form of this person and this world. The film has so much interesting pieces to it and it never brought those goose pumps but when it got over I cannot stop thinking about the perception of art.