Can something illegal be considered art? Is Graffiti art vandalism?
Arts Speak

Can something illegal be considered art? Is Graffiti art vandalism?

Divya Menon

Divya Menon

These are some of the quintessential arguments that have rocked the foundation, ethics and sensibilities of the art world since decades now and yet, the mystery, the debate, the doubt, all continue to remain essentially the same.

Perhaps the earliest artist was a graffiti artist? Perhaps Graffiti is every child’s earliest hands on experience with art, with home walls, floors, parapets, boundary walls being his first canvas? But somewhere along the journey called growing up man lost this free willed spirit within him and manifested several fears, moralities and needless to say, all sorts of rights and wrongs. Thus Graffiti despite being an amazing form of expression is often thought of as being an unlawful incursion into public space.

However, despite the furore, drama and the politics that revolves around the word Graffiti, many artists have carved a niche for themselves as Graffiti artists and have also succeeded in bringing up this hugely common yet unpopular artistic expression to the status of other forms of art. And one of the most well known among them; perhaps the most mysterious as well is 'Banksy' - an anonymous artist based in England who has been a street artist and political activist since the 90s. His works created using a distinct stenciling technique carry the highest sattire and dark humor. With graffiti being illegal, anonymity is an obvious outcome. Banksy is believed to be Robin Gunningham. Some people believe he is Robert Del Naja of the band Massive Attack and there are others who think he is Jamie Hewlett, English comic book artist best known for the comic Tank Girl and the virtual band Gorillaz.

Apparently Banksy's anonymity has inspired a massive following across the world and he has won several awards and accolades like the 2014, Person of the Year at the 2014 Webby Awards.

More about his works to follow in the next issue.

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