The history art ‘vandal’ Banksy

The anxiety of people finding out your identity and the rush of getting your artwork done in under 24 hours is the kind of stress that Banksy, the anonymous street artist, has mastered for well over 15 years now. Street art has been a force that gives artists no limitation to express what they truly feel. Banksy’s creative techniques and unrestrictive imagery has not only created a strong following but also shifts what we know as street art. Banksy has hidden his identity for almost 20 years. His last face to face interview was in 2003, and now he sticks to email interviews or speaks through his organization Pest Control, which handles any statements made by the artist.

Banksy is a UK based street artist who does much of his work where he grew up — in the more run-down part of Bristol. The artist started with the alias, DBZ or DryBreadZ, creating multi-layered stencil rat and gorilla murals on various public buildings. Banksy stayed mostly in Bristol from the 1990s to the early 2000s, after which he started tagging walls around London and even Palestine, where he began to make national headlines for his ‘controversial’ work. He started to gradually build his fame by being included in exhibits, his breakthrough exhibit being “Turf War.” But Banksy really caught media’s attention with his piece “Crimewatch UK has Ruined the Countryside for All of Us,” where he strays away from his typical stencil style and tries something new by adding police tape on a very scenic landscape painting depicting the countryside. Banksy’s work even made it into the US where he was known as the “Hang and Run” artist after he hung one of his pieces in the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York. Since then, the Bristol artist has been included in exhibits, and his pieces have gone on sale for millions of dollars.

In 2015, Banksy opened an open art exhibit called Dismaland, where he and 58 global artists created a dystopian version of Disneyland. In 2017, Banksy even customized a hotel where you can literally sleep in the hands of his art; the walls and halls are covered with these pieces. Recently, in October 2018, Banksy shredded his piece, “Girl with Balloon” that sold for 1.8 million at an auction. The artist built a secret shredder in the frame that went off it was ever to be put up for auction.

Banksy’s anonymity may play a part in why people are so intrigued by his work, but there is no doubt that he brings new value to street art. He details controversial images that many are too scared to face, like the corruption of politics and morals. He understands and reflects societal normalities that are actually tearing people apart, like the obsession with phones and materialistic things. Of course, Banksy isn’t the first artist to have controversial pieces, but what really intrigues people is that he goes through so much effort of being in the shadows and enjoys the satisfaction of people finding his art anytime and anywhere, almost like a superhero.