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Only known as Banksy he is possibly the World’s most infamous artist alive. To some an artist to others a vandal, depending on which side of the fence you lie, literally. This street artist has never unveiled his identity to the public and has been equally as masterful in covering his tracks as laying evidence of his art in the most public and often controversial of places. Famously unseen by security but later seen on CCTV hanging his version, a painting of the Mona Lisa on the walls of the Louvre Gallery in Paris.
Thought to be raised in Bristol a southern English city, home to the Trip Hop music genre and to the artists such as Portishead, Tricky and Massive Attack, his work was found all over the country and has stretched to many other major cities since he has moved to the country’s capital shortly after the millennium.
Celebrities have swarmed to his exhibitions and bought his artwork as quickly as he vanishes from the scene of making. Angelina Jolie spending over $200,000 dollars and a bidder buying his artwork for Blur’s Think Tank album for $288,000. It was reported director Guy Ritchie, ex-husband to Madonna commissioned a portrait for her 50th birthday.
To accompany his political statements the guerilla artist puts himself in the firing line with controversial work such as a life-size replica of a Guantanamo Bay detainee placed in Disneyland which stopped all rides and hit the news headlines globally. In 2005, he embarrassed the British Museum by planting a hoax cave painting of a man pushing a supermarket trolley, which he said went unnoticed for three days. He smuggled 500 “alternative” versions of Paris Hilton’s album into record shops around the UK. The artist replaced Hilton’s songs with his own remixes, which were given titles such as Why am I Famous?, What Have I Done? and What Am I For? Perhaps the most risky of all was when he produced nine stencil sprays on the Palestinian side of the West Bank barrier. The satirical images showed images of life on the other side of the barrier. One depicted a hole in the wall with an idyllic beach, while another showed a mountain landscape. These are just to name a few.
Despite the complex nature of hos planning to achieve such controversial work and stay anonymous In his word his philosophy is simple:
Is it cheating to use stencils?
Stencils are good for two reasons; One – they’re quick ; two – they annoy idiots.
Why are you such a sell out?
I wish I had a pound for every time someone asked me that.
Is Banksy just a big brand these days? Do you even paint your own pictures?
It’s not supposed to be a brand, which is why people in advertising think it’s such a good one. I paint it all myself unless its illegal, in which case I’ve never seen any of it before, your honour.
Is Exit Through the Gift Shop real?
Are you still friends with Mr. Brainwash?
I like to think so. When I asked him what he thought about the film he said “This is a cult movie, this is a classic movie, this movie stands alone – like The Godfather.”
Did you paint over Robbo’s piece and have him beaten up? His piece in Camden had been dogged for more than five years by the time I painted that spot. It’s a real shame about his accident and I hope he fully recovers. I would never deliberately cuss Robbo – he’s a graffiti legend. And he’s bigger than me.
Did you rip off Blek le Rat?
No, I copied 3D from Massive Attack. He can actually draw.
Do you need an intern?
Why are you so annoying?
It’s not all my fault, sometimes they make it up – I’ve never vandalized a war memorial, painted Kate Moss’s kitchen or visited the Playboy club with Ashley Cole wearing a skull mask.
What artists do you rate?
Käthe Kollwitz is my favourite. Partly because her drawing style is so beautiful, and partly because she thought being an artist was self-indulgent crap and became a doctor in an orphanage instead.
Can you donate a picture for my charity auction?
What are you? Blind? In which case maybe. I mostly support projects working to restore sight and prevent eye disease. Or as I like to call it ‘expanding the market’.
Please don’t follow me on facebook or twitter because I’m not on there.