Banksy unmasked?

A Palestinian child stands next to a mural of a kitten, said to have been painted by British street artist Banksy, on the remains of a house that was destroyed during the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas militants in the summer of 2014, in the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanun. Mohammed Abed / AFP Photo
A Palestinian child stands next to a mural of a kitten, said to have been painted by British street artist Banksy, on the remains of a house that was destroyed during the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas militants in the summer of 2014, in the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanun. Mohammed Abed / AFP Photo

Would unveiling the graffiti artist’s identity change the significance of his work?

Banksy’s identity has long been a fascinating mystery. The famous street artist’s murals and installations have appeared in many places around the world, highlighting issues ranging from the impact of smartphones on relationships to the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.

The mystery was thought to have been solved in 2008 when Britain’s Mail on Sunday pointed the finger at Bristol artist Robin Gunningham. But now journalist Craig Williams has posited a new theory that Banksy is actually a group of people working together under the leadership of Robert “3D” Del Naja, from British trip-hop band Massive Attack. He notes that new Banksy works often appear near venues where the band is performing. Del Naja has called the theory “exaggerated rumours”.

We may never know Banksy’s identity – but does that matter? Perhaps the real mystery is what makes Banksy’s work different to that of the many other street artists whose art is dismissed as vandalism. Would it be more or less popular if we knew his or her name?

Published: September 5, 2016 04:00 AM

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