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Who is Banksy, The Artist Behind Myths And Rumours?

May 28, 2019 By Kayode Oseh 4.6K

Banksy is an anonymous England-based street artist, vandal, political activist, and film director. His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stenciling technique. His works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world.

The anti-establishment artist has always kept his name and identity a closely guarded secret. By remaining anonymous he has created an air of mystery which has helped him to become one of the most successful artists of his generation.

Who is Banksy?

What is his real name?

This is still a mystery. The artist has said he will never reveal his identity. In 2008, a newspaper reportedly unmasked Banksy as Robin Gunningham.

Has this been proven?

Not exactly. Nothing has been confirmed, nor denied.

But scientists at Queen Mary University of London claim to have "tagged" Banksy using geographic profiling. This technique is usually reserved for catching serial criminals. They also suggest Gunningham to be the artist.

This stemmed from  a photo taken in Jamaica showing a man, with a spray can at his feet.

If Gunningham is the elusive street artist, what do we know about him?

Gunningham is "a former public schoolboy brought up in middle-class suburbia" and attended the £9,240-a-year Bristol Cathedral School. He was a gifted artist at school.

If it is not Gunningham, who else could be Banksy?

Another name commonly linked to the artist is another Bristolian, Robin Banks  or Banx (from which Banksy is said to have evolved).

King Robbo was another - the graffiti artist died in 2014.  Speculation arose when Banksy painted over one of Robbo's works on the Camden Canal, contravening the graffiti code of conduct, which  states that only artists ever paint over their own work. A tit-for-tat feud ensued. It's unclear why he would feud with himself.

Paul Horner, originally from Liverpool, is another name in the hat. His identity as Banksy was "revealed" after he was arrested by Metropolitan Police at his studio (this was a hoax).

Mr Brainwash - or comical street artist Thierry Guetta - is another candidate. He appeared in the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, which has led people to believe he was a hoax created by Banksy or that he is Banksy.

Banksy could be artist Damien Hirst's alter ego. The pair collaborated for the piece Keeping It Spotless, which features a French maid sweeping under a spot painting.

After years of assumptions that the most famous guerrilla artist alive is a man, he could be a woman.

There are also suggestions that the street artist is a collective of seven artists or could not exist at all.

Who are his inspirations?

Banksy was inspired by the French stencil artist Blek le Rat and his fellow Bristolian 3D (or Robert Del Naja), who went on to form Massive Attack.

What do we know as fact?

It is claimed Banksy was given the name after the England goalkeeper Gordon Banks while playing for the local team.

Whether this is true or not, we do know is that Banksy was a goalkeeper for the Bristol-based football club Easton Cowboys and Cowgirls.

Now that he has grown up, his parents think he is a painter and decorator.

Banksy has been captured on film and photographed in the past but is always wearing a mask or hood, as he did in his spoof 2010 grafitti film Exit Through the Gift Shop, "the world's first street art disaster movie".

Banksy rose to fame by using stencils to paint grafitti images on public walls, often with a topical political message. His images have become so popular that some property owners have opted to protect his creations rather than wash them off.

Does it matter who Banksy is?

Some say no. He is providing a service and joy to art lovers around the world.

Others, such as the former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, claim he is a menace to society, defacing property with his grafftti. Banksy's work has also been called vandalism.

Either way, maybe the truth has been hidden in plain sight.

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