Has the identity of elusive street artist Banksy been revealed?
British DJ Goldie might just have spoiled one of modern art's biggest mysteries: The identity of street artist Banksy. In a podcast discussing the commodification of graffiti, the musician referred to the incognito icon as "Robert," appearing to confirm popular speculation that the man behind the art is Goldie's close friend and Massive Attack band member, Robert Del Naja.
Del Naja, one of the founding members of the trip hop group, is himself an acclaimed graffiti artist, one whom Banksy has claimed to take inspiration from in the past.
The clandestine nature of Banksy is in stark contrast to the global acclaim of the graffiti artist's street work. Based in London, Banksy boasts a worldwide portfolio, featuring murals infused with provocative politics.
From corruption to war to revolution, Banksy applies artistic license to inject a hint of irony, even comedy, into his artistic statements on international affairs.
In March of this year, the artist opened an elaborate boutique art hotel in Bethlehem, West Bank, where ornate décor brought life to lavish murals. An impartial haven in a polarized region, the site was meant to empower and inform a conversation where art is the universal language. That seems to be Banksy's theme no matter where his work is found.
In 2015, the performer opened "Dismaland," an abandoned, dismal dystopia in southwest England, where a burnt Minnie Mouse billboard and crashed Cinderella carriage are just a couple of the grim takes on the classic childhood amusement park.
Banksy's mysterious career, spanning two decades, may lose part of its intrigue if the artist, or artists, behind him were to ever be confirmed. Indeed, he's taken extreme care to maintain his anonymity. Perhaps that's why Goldie immediately paused and dropped the subject so suddenly after the name drop.
Goldie and Del Naja collaborated on graffiti art in the 80s, before Del Naja went on to form Massive Attack. The band has since won numerous awards for its work, plus two spots in Rolling Stone's list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Last year, an investigative journalist justified the suspicion behind Del Naja's involvement with Banksy, noting many of the artist's work appeared in locations and dates aligning with Massive Attack's tour schedule. Del Naja has denied ties to Banksy in the past.