The elusive genius of Banksy

June 2, 2022

Banksy is an anonymous street/graffiti artist based in England. He has been active since the early 1990s but has gained extreme popularity in recent years, primarily because of his elusive identity and the activism and, often, the humour behind his artwork. His artwork is worldwide, but predominantly in and around London, as he is originally from England. 

The identity of Bansky has always been concealed, and while many theories exist, few have the proof to make such claims believable. In a 2003 article by Simon Hattenstone for The Guardian, Banksy was described as “white, 28, scruffy casual—jeans, T-shirt, a silver tooth, silver chain and silver earring”.

Few details are known about Banksy’s influences and style choice. Still, it is confirmed that Bansky uses stencils, seemingly out of necessity, as it is much faster and lowers the likelihood of getting caught in the act, or finishing the piece over multiple days. In fact, in his earlier career, Banksy stated his intention behind remaining anonymous was to avoid legal consequences for his illegal graffiti. 

Perhaps his most famous and recognizable work, Girl with a Balloon, is a series with the original work located in Central London. This piece has often been used to represent various forms of activism. In 2018, an original print of this piece was sold at an auction for €1.19 million (CAD 1.6 million). Seconds after it was sold, the work was lowered through the frame and shredded. A video was later posted by Banksy, showing the installation of the shredder and showing a “rehearsal.” It is believed that the piece was intended to be shredded entirely, as the video later said, “in rehearsals it worked every time…”. 

The piece was renamed “Love is in the Bin” and has since sold for €21.6 million (CAD 29.8 million). As expected, the shredding and the publicity it received wildly increased the value of the work.

Stunts like these make Banksy one of the world’s most renowned and captivating artists. His ability to capture the attention of the art world and make insightful commentary that so often contradicts the actions of his audience is truly genius. 

If you are interested in Banksy’s work, many of his pieces can be seen in Toronto. The most notable are at The Esplanade & Church St. and One York. 

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