Who is Banksy, and is it that important we know? Neil Buchanan, the former Art Attack presenter, was the subject of a recent conspiracy that identified him as the street artist. The rumours gained traction on social media, with some citing how Buchanan was famous for his “big outdoor pieces” of art. Possibly, in this case, it was a conspiracy theory that people wanted to be true, rather than there being a possibility of it being true.
According to various sources, and other theories, Banksy has been ‘identified’ as the following: one of the founding members of the group Massive Attack, Jamie Hewlett, known for his artwork for the Gorillaz ,Robert Gunningham, a Bristol resident identified by criminologists at Queen Mary University who used ‘geographic profiling’ to locate the ‘repeat offender’ and basically anyone born in Bristol (I added that one).
The obsession with unveiling Banksy’s identity might be due to the drama that comes with secrecy or the keenness of the public to feel privy to the lives of celebrities. It might also be that people are trying to make sense of what Banksy is, what Banksy does and how he manages to both get away with (technically) vandalism whilst still being one of the most talked about members of the art world. Banksy is a famous artist who produces work that is loved, but who also manages to personally stay out of the limelight. He’s the most famous anonymous celebrity that I can think of. He produces street art that is worth hundreds of thousands of pounds that, if done by somebody else, would either be judged as graffiti or vandalism. He is an admired and highly respected vandal. He is an artist that doesn’t use the oils and watercolours and canvas of British masters, but uses stencils and aerosols and city streets. Banksy seems like a street artist that never really wanted to be an artist or a personality. Unlike the ‘Young British Artists ’ of the 1980s and onwards, such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, he is not also known for his outbursts or his exploits other than his artwork . Banksy produces art that speaks for itself.
The obsession behind finding out who Banksy is seems to be fuelled by the inherent inaccessibility of his anonymous persona. Banksy, by nature, generates intrigue and interest in his work and his stunts because the anonymity is strange, vague and exciting. His irreverent and mysterious approach to art, in itself, contributes to our obsession and public interest in him and his pieces. But is it really that important to find out who Banksy is? Would it change anything? I don’t think we’ll ever find out. But even if someone did spot ‘him’ stencilling his latest work of art, it would probably be a member of his team anyway.
Featured image source: Banksy