1950s Housewife Takes Revenge on Abusive Husband: Banksy’s ‘Valentine’s Day Mascara’

The artist’s new work, marking Valentine’s Day, was painted on private property, so it is now necessary to contact the owner to preserve Banksy’s work

Valentine’s Day is celebrated with romantic dates, trips to the cinema and candlelit dinners, but it also serves as a pretext to remember the problem of violence in a context of intimacy. That was the approach chosen by British street artist Banksy, who marked the date with a new mural in which an abused wife pushes her husband into a freezer.

The work appeared in the city of Margate, UK, and the authorship was confirmed by the artist himself on his Instagram page. Titled ‘Valentine’s Day Mascara’, the work depicts a typical 1950s housewife, in an apron and cleaning gloves, throwing a man – apparently her husband – into a freezer. The face shows signs of violence such as bruises, a closed eye and a missing tooth in the open smile.

If the woman and the assailant’s legs were graffiti on the wall, the accessories that complete the work are three-dimensional: in front of the design were a refrigerator, an overturned chair, a blue basket and a glass bottle. The props were finally removed on Tuesday morning for safety reasons, although a District Council source says the ark will return to the site “as soon as it is safe for the public”.

The same source, cited by Reuters, explains that the mural itself is also subject to a reassessment: as the design was done on private property, it will be necessary to contact the owner and “discuss the options for preserving the work”.

Banksy’s identity remains a mystery, as does the true meaning of his works. The only means of communication is limited to social media posts in which he takes ownership of the works after they are completed – and their interpretation ends up being left to the public.

“Valentine’s Mascara” seems to have a consensus meaning among fans, who interpret it as a battered housewife taking revenge on her abusive husband. “Fighting violence against women, even on Valentine’s Day,” praises one comment. Another applauds the scenario depicted: “Glad she got rid of him.” “Is Banksy a woman?” dares another Instagram user.

The subject is relevant in the UK, possibly the artist’s home country, where violence against girls and women is often in the news. But not only that: in Portugal, both complaints and homicides due to domestic violence have increased in recent years.

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