The revelation that an investigator has discovered the identity of Banksy proves the mystery graffiti artist’s grip on the art world’s imagination remains as strong as ever.
Reporting on the GlasgowLive news website yesterday (1 September), Scottish journalist Craig Williams claimed to have unmasked the titan of street art after a decade of sleuthing. ‘I believe Banksy may actually be a group of artists including Robert Del Naja, who is a graffiti artist and also part of band Massive Attack’, Williams wrote.
Considered a pioneer of the stencil graffiti movement, Del Naja is credited with introducing hip-hop and graffiti culture to 1980s Bristol before becoming Massive Attack’s ‘creative director’. According to Williams, Banksy has spoken of his friendship with Del Naja throughout his career and even cited him as an important influence on his work.
Rather than being just one person, Williams contends that Banksy is actually ‘a group who have, over the years, followed Massive Attack around and painted walls at their leisure’. Leading the group is Del Naja ‘a multi disciplined artist doubling up as the planet’s most revered street artist’. Williams’ theory conflicts with the latest research findings from scientists at Queen Mary University who used a ‘geographic profiling’ technique to identify Banksy as former public school boy Robin Gunningham in March this year.
To establish Banksy’s identity, Williams traced the correspondence between several of the Bristolian trip hop trio’s international concerts and the subsequent appearance of Banksy works in the very same cities. He discovered that Banksy murals popped up shortly before or after Massive Attack gigs on at least six occasions over the past twelve years including around the time of concert tours in Melbourne, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and Boston.
Another clue came in the form of Massive Attack’s unexpected cancellation of their headline performance at Banksy’s dystopian theme park ‘Dismaland’ in September. At the time, the band cited ‘technical difficulties’.
Contrary to Williams’ claim, both Banksy and Del Naja are said to have distanced themselves from each other. Banksy is thought to have suggested Del Naja is too old to be him while Del Naja claimed he only street painted for three years before devoting himself to his music career.
Nevertheless, Williams predicts another Banksy mural will appear just before or after Massive Attack are scheduled to appear at a homecoming concert in Bristol tomorrow (3 September).