A spate of graffiti art appearing on public property across Dubai – the most recent tongue-in-cheek verse announcing ‘Pull the cord, I’ve seen enough’ outside a TECOM construction site – has prompted interesting dialogue about the role of street art in our city. Whereas New York and London have a prominent graffiti culture, defacing public spaces is a criminal offence in Dubai and something that the city takes seriously. But there are other ways local artists (and viewers) can explore the realms of shock and street art.

The latest exhibition from The Farook Collection, entitled ‘The State: Social/Antisocial?’, features some of modern art’s biggest names, with pieces from Banksy, Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst on show in Dubai for the first time. These champions of shock art are guaranteed to make you think: here we take a closer look at some of the artists on show.

Banksy, age unknown, British
When he first hit the scene some 10 years ago, there was no way the faceless man behind the Banksy brand could have predicted his own success. As the world’s most notorious street artist, he uses stencils and prop to create his own social propaganda by turning the spotlight back on issues that governments wash over. His portfolio includes a trip to the Palestinian side of the West Bank barrier, on which he sprayed satirical images of life on the ‘other side’. In January 2011 he received an Oscar nomination for his documentary film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, about a French videographer who infamously cashed in on graffiti culture. The mystique associated with Banksy’s work is his biggest draw – despite many rumours, his true identity is still unknown.