A website announced on October 20 that Banksy has been arrested. The story was later debunked by other sources, but the elaborate hoax managed to capture the Internet’s attention. It’s not the first time that such a news occurs online. A similar story created waves on the Internet in early 2013, drawing increased attention to Banksy art.
Banksy is one of the most mysterious artists of all times. His anonymity is striking because we live in a world where we are constantly under surveillance through CCTV or the use of any device with a chip, be it credit card, smartphone or computer.
Banksy’s activities are precisely the type that the whole surveillance system seems to have been designed to stop from happening. In a way, he is a popular hero. He tells inconvenient social truths through effective metaphors. Most of his work is a fine social critique. But by doing it the way he does, Banksy breaks the law.
So why all the fuss around his arrest? It may be because it’s easy to empathize with him. In a way, we all feel that the system is rigged and the police is just another control mechanism favoring the few. If Banksy gets caught, the system will have won once again.
For a graffiti artist, Banksy has quite a lengthy career. Allegedly, the graffiti artist was born in 1974. One certain fact is that he was raised in Bristol and drew the first walls there while he was part of DryBreadZ Crew.
He rose to fame in the late 1990s, when the artist started using stencils as his primary mode of expression. Stencils have one huge advantage over other types of graffiti styles, they’re the fastest way of leaving a print, thus avoiding being caught by the police. Although graffiti partially developed into a legal form of art, its roots could not be further away from that.
Banksy moved to London by the early 2000s and quickly gained notoriety. But although he was based in London, Banksy traveled the world to paint in various locations. That was the time when he participated at several exhibitions, including one in Sydney, Australia.
One of the works that got him international status was the series of paintings on the Israeli West Bank Wall in 2005. Banksy harshly criticized Israel’s attitude while offering eerie images.
Soon after, Banksy’s works turned hot as everyone wanted a Banksy. A whole industry now lives off his work, particularly auction houses. Banksy art is increasingly expensive. Balloon Girl, for example, sold for more than 30,000 pounds. Other street artists benefited from Banksy’s fame, as the anonymous street artist attracted the world’s attention to the whole genre.
Stories of Banksy pieces being covered during renovation projects start to upset his fans and the art world in general. However, the authorities do not see his work as different from that of other graffiti artists.
More than a graffiti artist and a painter, Banksy is a film director. In 2010, he released “Exit Through the Gift Shop: A Banksy Film,” a documentary portraying the life of a young aspiring street artist in Los Angeles. With the occasion of his Oscar nomination for the Best Documentary Feature, the artist painted a couple of walls in both Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Loved by the art scene and hated by local authorities, who see him as the enemy of their master plans, Banksy is the street artist who managed to impress everyone. Banksy art is highly expensive at the moment. “The Banality of the Banality of Evil” was sold for $615,000 in November 2013.