Banksy should have won. He’s the Yin to my Yang. Dude with a name but a hidden identity & the one everyone knows but must not be named.
This is what the fake Lord Voldemort tweeted in February this year.
Living on a planet where your face is your identity, regardless of who you are; Banksy has managed to keep himself hidden under a cloak of mystery. He has crafted diverse works of art across the planet ranging from an uninhibited, rebellious style to the kind of work that is blatantly juvenile. However, very little is known about where he comes from.
They say that a street artist lives a life of anonymity out of necessity. The most conspicuous and awe-inspiring street art is not made by artists who are renowned. Rather, it their creations that speak for themselves. You don’t get to see them, but their pseudonyms are ever-present.
What we do know about Banksy is that he is UK-based. Morsels of information point to the fact that he became a part of the graffiti scene in the early 1990s. It has also been stated that he was born in 1974 which means he should be around 37 years old right now. Though many have claimed to be aware of Banksy’s true identity, only a few have really brought forward something remotely concrete.
What else do we know about Banksy? His art, regardless of being a stencil or a painting, unambiguously and recurrently deals with a plethora of social issues. He has tackled issues like war and poverty to ones like capitalism and governments. There’s always the right dose of humor and an ever-present wit connected to his art that always manages to crack you up and makes you wonder at the man’s brilliance.
His work has time and again been labeled as vandalism by authorities and is a constant source of tension. Till date, street art is deemed as a crime. This requires most urban artists to be quick with their work. Using custom stencils, Banksy does a simple and quick job as he is just required to hold the stencil and spray. Though Banksy is usually known for his stencils, there are many pieces credited to him that are complex and it is evident that he does put in a whole lot of effort and attention to detail to make his street art truly unique.
“The thing I hate the most about advertising is that it attracts all the bright, creative and ambitious young people, leaving us mainly with the slow and self-obsessed to become our artists.”
When someone loves art and appreciates its impact on human emotions, they gradually try and experience the art at close quarters. But when you happen to love Banksy’s art – it is a little different as the artist who you admire happens to be anonymous.
Banksy’s art is transient and hence the flare-up in his approbation. His street art is short-lived and is often painted over and removed by the city workers, regardless of the location as they stick to no-tolerance policy regarding graffiti. The internet along with gallery shows, books and auctioned pieces are responsible for creating a stir and interest for this anonymous street artist.
Here are three images of Banksy’s trademark rodent – a symbol of urban proliferation and an anagram of art.
Banksy has always been liberal regarding the reproduction of his art as he has stated that his art belongs to the street and that is where it can be seen the most. To add to his credibility, a lot of celebrities such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have reportedly bought $400,000 worth of Banksy’s art. His work has even been fatured in prestigious auctions like the Sotheby’s. Critics argue that Banksy’s value will come down once he is unmasked but it is safe to assume that this may never happen as he is quite adamant about his state of anonymity.
“Any fame is a by-product of making something that means something. You don’t go to a restaurant and order a meal because you want to have a shit.”
Banksy’s legacy has spawned an Oscar-nominated documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Deemed as the inside story of street art, the film chronicles the journey of documentary filmmaker, Thierry Guetta as he attempts to capture infamous graffiti artists like Shephard Fairey, Invader and Banksy in action. Staying true to his anonymity, Banksy appears all through the film with his hood on. Some critics call the documentary the biggest Banksy prank, while others just call it a celebration of the artist’s art and reach. But whatever the truth might be, this Picasso of urban street art is sure to remain anonymous for a long time and his art will keep on appearing randomly across the planet.
As Banksy himself said, “I am unable to comment on who may or may not be Banksy, but anyone described as being ‘good at drawing’ doesn’t sound like Banksy to me.”