Who is hiding behind Banksy, the signature of the most famous English artist that, with his works, has colored the walls of whole world?
Who is really behind that nameless artist who stealthily brought his paintings into the most prestigious art galleries, alongside the originals?
Many people have tried to revelate his true identity and the hypotheses made so far are all based on small clues that could really correlate the unnamed artist with every possible suspect.
However, even if its true identity still remains shrouded in mystery, it’s certain that when it comes to Banksy, striking works and facts never cease to amaze. It’s impossible to forget the clamor that many of his artworks have created, in his attempt to denounce an art world reserved only for a restricted élite public.
How can we forget the story with which the artist himself wanted to show all his disappointment for the commodification of art? Immediately after that a collector at the Sotheby’s auction in London won The Balloon Girl painting for more than a million pounds, Banksy destructed its through a complicated mechanism he had inserted into the framework of the painting.
But beyond those episodes often so striking feats, to this day still remains a mystery which is the true face that hides behind Banksy. Let’s see together what are the various hypotheses made over the years and what are the reasons that put each of these subjects in correlation with the most revolutionary, discussed and admired street artist of all times.
Is Banksy Thierry Guetta (MBW)?
One of the hypotheses most accredited by a large number of people committed to giving a face to the artist, is that which sees Bansky and Mr Brainwash as the same person. To give strength to this hypothesis there are many elements, including the meeting that ThIerry Guetta, aka Mr. Brainwash, would have had with the artist with the mysterious face in 2008.
At that time Mr Brainwash was intent on immortalizing all the most famous street artists of the moment with his video camera. The idea to making a documentary film that tells the world what street art really is and answers the question why investing in street art, through Banksy and his works, finds the consent of the artist, who is thus taken up during the realization of his paintings.
Those footage, however, ended up highlighting only Mr. Brainwash’s poor ability as a director, while the world of street art he had observed from the eyes of his video camera fascinated him more and more. Mr Brainwash thus sets the objective aside and begins to create some works that will take him in a very short time to the Olympus of street artists, together with Banksy.
Thus the roles are reversed and to end up behind the video camera is Banksy, who with “Exit trough the gift shop” takes care of the direction and brings the biography of ThIerry Guetta to the Sundance Film Festival in 2010.
The documentary film proved to be a success and quickly broke revenue records. The question remains “Why did Banksy choose Mr. Brainwash?” What is the relationship between the two artists? With that documentary film, Banksy wanted to present his biography to the world?
These are the questions that seem to create that indissoluble bond between the two and that has convinced many scholars and admirers of the artist that Banksy and Mr Brainwash are actually the same person.
Is Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack Banksy?
The first to link Robert Del Naja to the mysterious artist was a british journalist who, driven by some clues like the common hometown between the two (both were born in Bristol) and the belonging of both to that artistic universe that involves many graffiti artists, came to hypothesize that behind the acronym Banksy there could be the young street artist or at least that the latter was the head of an artistic group that had chosen that stage name to sign their own creations.
The hypothesis was however denied by Robert Del Naja himself, famous for having founded the musical group Massive Attack and universally known also with the pseudonym 3D.
For many years the fact that the murals of the unknown artist appeared precisely in the places where the group performed its concerts has fueled this hypothesis. Massive Attack played in the Big Apple and Banksy’s murals appeared in New York.
Robert Del Naja went to the San Paolo Stadium in the famous city of Naples to follow his favorite team and here are some of the artist’s most famous stencils, such as the Madonna with the Gun, as if to underline the emotional bond very close joining Banksy – Naples.
To give greater credibility to the fact that Banksy is really the musician of Massive Attack was a gaffe dated 2017 by deejay Goldie, aka Clifford Price, during a radio live. In that occasion the DJ and graffiti artist sayed
“Give me a rounded letter, let’s put it on a T-shirt, let’s write about Banksy and you’re done. We can sell it. Without disrespecting Robert, I think he’s a brilliant artist, he turned the world of art upside down.”
Too late, the DJ realized that he letted it slip out of his mouth the name Robert referring to the mysterious artist. By now the gaffe had been made and it certainly did not escape the many Bansky fans who had long been arguing that it was indeed Robert Del Naja.
Scientific theories – Banksy is Robin Gunningham?
There are also scientific theories aimed at demonstrating the true identity of the artist who has filled the cities of the world with his murals. To declare that behind the acronym Banksy is really Robin Gunningham was a group of scholars at Queen Mary University in London.
To reach this conclusion the scientists have relied on the technique of the criminal geographic profile, a method that is usually used for the identification of serial killers.
Taking a rather narrow scope, which goes from London to Bristol, the experts have identified some hot spots, or places that are often visited by the artist, to then relate them with the movements of Robin Gunningham.
More than 140 works scattered between the two cities allowed to identify some key points (pubs, parks and specific addresses) that turned out to be places habitually frequented by Robin Gunningham.
The comparison, with its favorable outcome, would have ended up giving more credit to those hypotheses that had already been made in 2008.
In that occasion it was the Mail on Sunday to give news of the possible connection between the two, made even more credible by the fact that Gunningham himself is a fan of drawing.
None of the three hypotheses, however, has found certain bases, and Bansky’s identity continues to remain shrouded in mystery. But even if no one seems to be able to give a real name to the artist yet, what he sees everyone agrees is to recognize the great artistic value of his works.
Every time a new graffiti appears or a painting is put up for auction, the news goes around the world, catching the attention of many fans and collectors.
A few hours ago the news that his artwork “Devolved Parliament” dated 2009 was auctioned at Sotheby’s in London for the record amount of over 11 million euros. The painting depicts the famous palace of Westminster with many parliamentarians-monkeys inside.
In each art exhibition Bansky records thousands of visitors, whether it’s a personal Bansky Bologna event or a Bansky group show in New York.
Who hides behind that pseudonym? While failing to give a definite answer on the name, we can however say that behind the acronym Bansky lies one of the greatest artists in the world, who has made his art an immediate and effective form of expression.