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Celebrated Bristol-based graffiti artist Banksy seemingly revealed his real name in a newly unearthed interview from 2003.
The interview – which was never released until now – is being shared for the first time as part of a special episode being broadcast for BBC Radio 4’s The Banksy Story.
The famous artist – who has for decades remained anonymous – spoke to former BBC arts correspondent Nigel Wrench to mark the opening of Banksy's 2003 Turf War show in east London.
Wrench asked if he could use Banksy’s real name in the interview, citing that the newspaper The Independent had already used it in the past, asking the artist to confirm if his name was Robert Banks.
“It’s Robbie,” Banksy clarified.
There we have it.
Or do we?
One of the most famous artists of our century rose to prominence through a series of graffiti pieces that appeared on buildings across the country, marked by their satirical themes.
He has always chosen to keep his identity unknown, a way of allowing him to continue his art without the constraints of fame. It's an anonymity which also served as a means of protection from police prosecution.
There has been much speculation over the years as to who the infamous street artist could be. The theories are numerous, but some of them seem more credible than others.
Founder of Massive Attack Robert del Naja, also known by his pseudonym 3D, is also a graffiti artist and has been one of the most popular Banksy candidates. The correlation between the band's concert dates and new artworks has previously given fans and amateur sleuths plenty to go on.
Other scenarios include Jamie Hewlett, the co-founder of the band Gorillaz; Bristol resident Robin Gunningham; Neil Buchanan, the host of several children’s art shows on British television, who during the pandemic, was forced to release a statement denying his involvement with the Banksy persona; and the possibility it could be a collective of artists as opposed to a one man band.
But it now seems that it’s Robbie Banks.
Unless that is a pseudonym and we’re all still none the wiser... After all, Banksy has always been incredibly careful with regards to masking his identity, and it seems unlikely he should have let the mask slip... Even if the interview was 20 years ago and he may have had a temporary slip up.
All things considered, do we really need to know Banksy’s true identity?
Solve the riddle, and you symbolically dent or destroy the artist’s tantalizing elusiveness and his sense of unpredictability. He could be anyone, and maybe that's the point. Anonymity and mystery are two of the most vital parts of the Banksy brand, and uncovering his / her / their identity would also mean taking away the artist's (or artists') principal way of artistic expression.
So maybe Robbie is an alias. And us continuing to guess is probably for the best.
Posted on 21 Nov 2023 09:57 link