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Underground Graffiti Artist Banksy Blows His Cover

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The amazing Banksy, famous for his socially conscious graffiti art and the guerrilla tactics he uses to expose his creations, has recently been “profiled” by a British newspaper, the Daily Mail. Banksy has become somewhat of an internet sensation as his works have gained recognition through photos posted on the web taken by passersby.

* According to the Daily Mail, Banksy is a 34-year-old Bristol native named Robin Gunningham. The paper started with the one known photo of Banksy, taken in Jamaica several years ago (pictured above), and worked its way back through his hometown and beyond in a year-long investigation.

* A neighbor in the Bristol neighborhood where Gunningham grew up ID’d the Banksy photo as him.

* Friends at Gunningham’s private school in Bristol described him as a talented artist. The neighbor said he lived a “nomadic” existence that upset his parents.

* Gunningham’s roommate in Bristol in 1998 was a man named Luke Egan, who went on to exhibit art with Banksy. When questioned, Egan mumbled a lot and denied knowing anything.

* The landlady of the house that Gunningham and Egan shared says Gunningham was Banksy—because when he moved out he left a bunch of graffiti work in the house, which she threw out. Earlier published accounts of Banksy’s life confirm he shared a house in the neighborhood at the time.

* “Banksy moved to London around the turn of the millennium, once again at the same time as a certain Robin Gunningham. Robin lived in a flat in Kingsland Road, Hackney, East London, with Jamie Eastman, who worked for Bristol’s Hombre record label. Banksy drew a number of the record company’s album covers.”

* Banksy’s first major London show in 2003 was in a warehouse “just yards” away from where Gunningham lived.

* When the Daily Mail went to see Gunningham’s parents, both denied everything, including recognizing the picture, having a son, and being themselves.

[Peeped at Gawker]

I remember someone calling “street art” a selfless act. I don’t know about that. Graf art or art or fashion has a vain aspect to it. That does not mean all artists or fashionistas or models are all vain. It means that vanity is part of the human condition and is inherent in almost all endeavors taken on by human beings. But I have to give it up to Banksy, who has put a lot of thought into making his art more than an expression of himself. He has attempted to stimulate and force people to be critical of the world around them through abstraction. And while he could have easily been an outspoken artist tootin’ his own horn while waving the Banksy flag, the nature of his art has pressured him to become anonymous. He placed the focus on his art and not himself. That’s why it’s a little disheartening to know that someone’s trying to expose his identity. As an anonymous entity, his art stands for ideals with the power of affecting the lives of his fellow man. Without it, it’s like taking off the mask of Batman or V for Vendetta and underneath the mask is just another man. Like I mentioned, Banksy is not operating completely devoid of vanity, even if he isn’t able to publicly receive his accolades. But his anonymity is almost as important as the art itself.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted July 14, 2008 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this little bit on banksy. I’ve been a fan of his work for about a year. It’s a shame someone went and basically ruined his image–no pun intended. His anonymity was what made the art all the more intriguing. Banksy represented ideas, not a person, and for someone to ruin that, it is truly a shame.

  2. Posted July 15, 2008 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    I’ve got to agree with d-rock. He was a faceless mythical revolutionary, now that he’s been unmasked it doesn’t seem the same. I don’t know why, but it just does!

  3. richard
    Posted July 15, 2008 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    he may have been unmasked but the ideas and ideals he stands for havent changed 🙂


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