‘Girl and balloon’, London, 2002, probably one of the most famous Banky’s artwork not only because of the red heart balloon floating in the wind ,but because of a small quote on the wall
We all know that the hidden identity of Banksy, one of the most famous graffiti artists in the world, is one of the reasons for his enormous popularity.
So is it really possible that the true identity of the most famous graffiti artist has been accidentally revealed a few days ago when Goldie, a UK producer, let a name slip during an interview on Scroobius Pip’s “Distraction Pieces” podcast? He said: “Give me a bubble letter and put it on a T-shirt and write ‘Banksy’ on it, and we’re sorted. We can sell it now. No disrespect to Robert, I think he is a brilliant artist. I think he has flipped the world of art over.”
Goldie (right) with Robert Del Naja from ‘Massive Attack’ in Wolverhampton, 1985
Of course, he could talk about any Robert, but in this particular case, everybody was pretty sure that he was talking about Robert Del Naja, his friend and a musician, graffiti artist and founder of the popular band ‘Massive Attack’.
This is not the first time Robert’s name was connected to Banksy and not without a reason.
First, it is well known that Banksy (the same as Robert Del Naja) and Goldie are lifelong friends from Bristol, England, a city famous for its graffiti art scene and strong relationship between music and art, especially during the ’90s. Both Robert del Naja and Goldie were part of the larger Bristol underground street art and hip hop scene as musicians and graffiti artists, the same as Banksy.
Very powerful Banksy’s work: ‘Follow Your Dreams – Cancelled’, 2010, Boston
Robert Del Naja is also famous as a visual artist, and his work always appeared on the cover of Massive Attack’s albums. As a matter of fact, he was a graffiti artist before becoming a vocalist. His work has been featured on all of Massive Attack’s record sleeves. Del Naja is credited as being a pioneer of the stencil graffiti movement (again the same as Banksy) and bringing hip hop and graffiti culture from the United States to Bristol in the early 1980s.
Last year, after five months of investigation, journalist Craig Williams said that Del Naja is Banksy. He made that conclusion because Banksy’s graffiti continued to show up at places where Massive Attack had performances. That happened, for example, in April 2003 in Melbourne, Australia, where Massive Attacks had a gig a month before. Among other stuff, Banksy created (and later destroyed) the famous “Parachuting Rat” using stencils and spray paint.
‘No Loitering’, 2008, New Orleans for the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrinathe
In 2010, Banksy “bombed” San Francisco with six murals he did in just one day (May 1). At the same city, Massive Attack had two concerts just a few weeks before.
Also, it is well known that Robert Del Naja knows Banksy and said he is a good mate who has been to some of Massive Attack’s gigs.
Even if Del Naja is not Banksy, they must be very close: They both grew up in the same city, they both were both part of an urban art and music movement, they both belonged to the same generation of graffiti artists, they both use similar graffiti techniques, and they both tour all over the world.
It is paradoxical that we know so much about Banksy but at the same time still, don’t know who he is.
Banksy’s Brexit mural in Dover (UK). The worker removing the star also causes cracks to the rest of the EU symbol
With his hidden identity, he protected himself from police and authorities (police are a common subject of Banksy’s art), but the mystery made him a superstar on the graffiti scene. With his secret disclosed, a huge brand will disappear and (we assume) many legal problems will show up.
On the other side, we are not sure did Goldie mentioned Robert’s name accidentally or in purpose. Yes, it really seemed like it was accidental. It seemed that Goldie realized what he just did and changed the subject, but who can be that sure that this is not a planned move? Banksy led his career well and he succeeded in being mysterious for more than 20 years, so maybe this is just one of his tricks.
‘Sirens Of The Lambs’, 2013, New York. Funny and horrifying installation with stuffed animals peeking out of a green truck, screaming with fear
Anyhow, as soon as Goldie mentioned Robert’s name, the internet got crazy. Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets of urban culture was (maybe) accidentally revealed.
However, two days ago People magazine very authoritatively said that “a source” told them that Banksy is NOT Robert Del Naja. So, the case is closed. Go home, people! The party is over!
Ah, those unnamed sources… They know everything… How can we not trust them…?
Peaceful Hearts Doctor, San Francisco, 2010. This is one of Banksy’s six artworks he made during one day (May 1st) in San Francisco
~ Milica Puric ~