November 5th, 2007
Most people have probably heard of the mysterious English guerilla artist known as “Banksy,” famous for his engaging street graffiti. The graffiti has appeared in London and many other cities around the world. Few would, however, be able to say exactly who this elusive figure is, the topic being one of much controversy in the past. Well, finally someone believes to have caught the artist on film, the picture of him can be seen here.
No reliable picture has ever been taken before and the passerby who took it is familiar with Banksy’s works. He is convinced that it is him. The photograph was taken in a place called Bethnal Green and shows a man at work, painting together with an assistant, scaffolding and truck. Banksy has always taken strong steps to disguise his true identity but now evidence suggests that the man in the picture is him. In the picture that Banksy has painted, a flower on the wall made of double yellow lines which carry on from the lines on the road can be seen together with a picture of an artist next to it.
Banksy has mystified and charmed hundreds of people with his graffiti, with many works fetching hundreds of thousands of pounds at auction. Even Hollywood stars such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have been buying Banksy pieces. However, it is true that his “artwork” has always been controversial, both in content and the fact that it is unauthorised in many places. Indeed, Tower Hamlet council have decided to treat all the work as graffiti and paint it over. As a spokesman says:
“As ever, priority is given to the removal of offensive graffiti.”
Personally, whatever the consensus on the paintings is, what makes me wonder the most is whether the mystery of Banksy’s identity is itself part of what makes his works so famous – and indeed if this is the case, whether the popularity will be diminished once he is unveiled.