Banksy: The Enigmatic Grafitti Artist Who Paints the Walls of the World

Banksy: The Enigmatic Grafitti Artist Who Paints the Walls of the World

There are many graffiti art that is now spreading all around made by the artist named Banksy / Photo by: Scott Lynch via Wikimedia Commons


Mystery certainly adds color to this anonymous graffiti artist who goes by the name Banksy. No one knows who he really is even though he has been an influential part of the graffiti scene for over 20 years. When he does on rare occasions, appear on TV or in photos, he shows up with a paper bag or a hood over his head.

Being anonymous yet famous, his artworks are often described as controversial and viral. It was in the year 2005 when he became an internationally recognized street artist when he decorated the Bethlehem Wall with his stencil artworks.

Painting History Through His Story

It was the masterpieces of Blak de Rat that sparked his interest in creating such mischievous artworks, which he began making in the early 1990s. At first, he made his graffiti art with a Bristol graffiti crew who called themselves Drybreadz or DBZ. Later on, he collaborated with Inkie, another graffiti artist. At 18 years old, when he started vandalizing public spaces and was nearly apprehended by the police, he began using stencils for his art. When he was hiding underneath a truck, he saw stencil letters etched on it. That’s when it struck him: using stencils would make it quicker for him to paint and therefore, make it harder for them to catch him. From then on, stencil artworks on walls became his trademark. Usually, he’d mix it with other street art or street media, or he would use multi-layered stencils to be able to communicate messages that deal with politics, philosophy, and art. Banksy integrates dark humor and satire in his street art installations.

He eventually moved to London in the early 2000s and there he became even more infamous. He started hosting several international exhibits. Not contented with spreading his art all over London, he traveled all the way to Palestine and the West Bank. When he got there, he painted nine stencil artworks, which caused a buzz on the internet. At the same time, he had been auctioning his stencil paintings and silkscreen in Bonham’s and Sotheby’s in London. His artworks sold a fortune and because of his success, he was able to enter the commercial business. His documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop made him an illustrious writer and filmmaker.

Due to the mystery surrounding his identity, several people have made sort of a guessing game of it, coming up with theories and alleged sightings of the artist. In order to keep staying anonymous, he does not give others the privilege of interviewing him.  According to Street Art Bio, his name is either Robert Gunninham or Robert Banks. Daily Mail even says that they found his truck breaking down in the middle of the street containing an art installation. Yet, fans of Banksy would rather have him keep his identity a secret, as he has been since the beginning, and are even against his unmasking. What spikes even more curiosity about this artist is that even his family has no idea that he is Banksy. Until today, none of the claims about his identity can be ascertained.

Back in England, three years ago during summer, he set up a dystopian theme park as part of a temporary art project. He named the project Dismaland and it was constructed in Weston-super-Mare. His theme park exhibited 10 of his masterpieces together with 58 other artworks made by other artists. He has truly made the world a truly colorful place by painting across various countries such as Jamaica, Canada, Israel, Australia, the United States, Australia, and England. His latest works can be found in New York.

Banksy started making wall graffiti in 1990 in England / Photo by: Szater via Wikimedia Commons


Belgian Exhibit Robbing the Banksy

Recently in Brussels, a gallery called Strokar has hosted an exhibit of Banksy’s artworks without his permission, Evening Standard says.  They called the event Banksy Unauthorized and was supposed to run on December 30. The organizer of the exhibit was Steve Lazarides.

On their official website, he posted, “Members of the public should be aware there has been a recent spate of Banksy exhibits none of which are consensual. They’ve been organized without the artist’s knowledge or involvement. Please treat them accordingly.” Belgian authorities who have been informed of this incident have confiscated 58 illegally acquired Banksy artworks which are said to amount up to approximately £12 million. The Guardian further elaborated that it was a German-based company called On Entertainment were the ones that provided those masterpieces to the gallery in Ixelles, Brussels.

Underneath a screenshot of a conversation he posted on Instagram, he stated his disapproval for charging people £20 for the Moscow branch of the gallery. He exclaimed, “What the hell is that? It’s got nothing to do with me...I don’t charge people to see my art unless there’s a fairground wheel.”

When Lazarides was asked to give his opinion on the matter, he just stated, “Hmm--not sure I’m the best person to complain about people putting pictures without getting permission.”

In Brussels, Belgium, an art exhibit became controversial after some of the works in the exhibit came from Banksy even the organizers of the exhibit did not make permission from him / Photo by: Cayla via Wikimedia Commons