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The English Street Artist’s Allure Lies in His Mystery

by Viktoria Popovska

I was scrolling through Pinterest on a warm 2016 day when I first encountered a piece by Banksy. It was an image of the famous Girl with Balloon artwork, found on the side of the Waterloo Bridge in London. The painting was simple, but its location was interesting, so I decided to learn more about the artist behind the art.

This ultimately prompted my Wikipedia spiral into the story of the anonymous street artist, Banksy. Their reputation of mysterious identity was beyond enticing. I truly believe there is a unique adrenaline rush to be found in secrecy, and the allure of having no idea who Banksy really is, is a shared secrecy by fans all over the world.

Banksy’s work first began to be noticed in the art scene in 1993. Soon enough his anti-authoritarian pieces became noticeable with their use of rats and policemen. Aside from just graffiti art, Banksy has had some pretty peculiar pieces as well. In 2003 Banksy held an exhibition entitled “Turf Wars” where they painted on live pigs.

Banksy’s talent is not just limited to street art. They have written five books documenting their projects and eccentric style.

Immediately after my initial introduction, I began to see Baksy as the spice this world needs. Their art acts as whimsical social commentary and is only elevated (maybe even only relevant) because no one knows who they are. I would think that everyone would want to keep the Banksy secret going, as it provides a layer of Sherlock Holmes-esque mystery novel to the world, but it seems I’m mistaken.

When I opened my phone on Sept. 7, I was met with a rumor that stopped my heart for a second: English television artist, Neil Buchanan, was the mysterious Banksy. The story was catching steam online, and I just wasn’t sure what to think.

I totally understand the need to quench curiosity, but would cracking the code of Bansky’s identity really be fulfilling? Maybe. But then we are left with no mystery. What's the fun of that?

Thankfully, Neil Buchanan was quick to deny the claims. Many art critics also took to social media and news outlets to point out the lack of similarities between the two artists' work.

As of now, the Banksy identity hunt has slowed, but there will always be people trying to crack the code. All I ask is if someone does figure out Banksy’s identity, keep it to yourself.

This is my plea for silence. For the sake of my need to have some light-hearted mystery in the world and in my life, and for the pure joy Banksy’s art gives to others, can we PLEASE keep them a secret? Pretty please?


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