Soldiers Painting Peace

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Banksy’s stenciled anti-war piece, Soldiers Painting Peace, became prominent after it was displayed in a collection at the Tate Britain gallery in London in 2007. The collection was a recreation of an artistic display outside of the Houses of Parliament, which was confiscated for supposedly violating a law against unauthorized protest within a certain distance of the building. In this painting two soldiers dressed in battle gear warily look around as they conspire to paint a peace sign on a wall. One is crouching down and holding a machine gun, while the other is holding a brush that has been dipped into a can of red paint and is working on completing the sign.

This satirical work by Banksy repudiates the repression of free speech that often takes place when a nation is at war, in an effort to maintain the appearance of consensus. In this work men who are armed with deadly weapons fear for their lives, which highlights that repression in a society may occur not only a physical but also an intellectual level. This is especially ironic when the justification for the war is to spread liberty and democracy.

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