The Latest Work From Banksy Invokes Oscar Wilde and Bob Ross

"Create Escape" appeared on the wall outside Reading Gaol

Banksy mural
Art work by graffiti artist Banksy on the side of HMP Reading depicting a prisoner escaping with a typewriter.
Ming Yeung/Getty Images

Are we living through a critical reappraisal of the life and work of Bob Ross? It’s been 25 years since his death, but he remains a pop culture mainstay — a kind of endurance few artists can claim. CBS News recently looked back on his enduring impact, and now none other than Banksy has released a kind of tribute to Ross as part of his latest work.

Create Escape, a painting on the wall outside of Reading Gaol, features a prisoner escaping over the wall, typewriter in tow. As The Art Newspaper reports, the typewriter looks to be an allusion to Oscar Wilde, who was imprisoned there from 1895 to 1897.

The video accompanying the painting documents the creation of the work, with audio from Bob Ross’s The Joy of Painting providing commentary on the techniques used. The two frequently line up perfectly, and there’s a moment at the end where the full image is revealed where Ross’s comments on art and freedom click into place.

Banksy and Bob Ross as kindred spirits? It makes an odd amount of sense, when you think about it.

Reading Gaol is no longer used as a prison — it’s been empty since 2013. The Ministry of Justice put it on the market in 2019; since then, there’s been a campaign afoot to save it and turn it into a cultural center. The Art Newspaper‘s report points out that a high-profile art exhibition took place inside the former prison in 2016.

Now, the history of Reading Gaol incorporates another work of art — this time with a Bob Ross hat-tip.

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