AN unearthed interview seems to confirm that Banksy is Bristol-based artist Robin Gunningham. But if you’re got one of his undemanding artworks on your wall, what does it mean?
Sweep It Under the Carpet
A maid hides dirt by lifting up the whitewash on a brick wall. It’s thought to be about the West refusing to confront global poverty. You like this because it shows you care without actually having to argue for something tangible like increasing foreign aid or reining in capitalism. You don’t want a tense atmosphere at your dinner party.
Love is in the Air
A rioter throwing a bunch of flowers instead of a petrol bomb. It was originally stencilled on the hated West Bank Wall and you liked the bland ‘peace is good’ message, but now you’re a bit worried about it due to Hamas’ sickening rampage. Maybe you’ll swap it out for Dance by Henri Matisse. That’s an original interior design choice.
Girl with Balloon
The incredibly famous one depicting a little girl’s heart-shaped balloon floating away. Clearly it’s about the loss of childhood innocence. Not political, but it’s impressively obvious and sends out the message: ‘I am a Guardian reader who likes slightly trendy art, not the confusing stuff like Picasso.’
Well Hung Lover
A naked man dangles beneath his female lover’s bedroom window as her irate husband peers out looking for him. It’s been interpreted as a protest against Bristol council’s clampdown on graffiti at the time, so Banksy is really speaking truth to power with this one. Or maybe he’s just a big fan of Confessions of a Window Cleaner?
Child doing judo throw on man
A small child hurls his opponent, a large adult man, to the ground in one of several murals painted by Banksy in Ukraine. It’s a bit obvious even for him, but at £12.50 from Etsy for you it was much cheaper and less morally troubling than donating £250 to Ukraine to buy weapons to kill Russians, which is the help they want.
Luxury Rentals Only
Hermit crabs with big shells on their backs ward off other shell-less crabs by holding up a ‘Luxury rentals only’ sign. Originally painted on a sea wall in Cromer in Norfolk as part of a series highlighting the plight of the homeless, a situation made worse by the cutthroat rental market and seaside holiday homes. The message – people with big houses don’t want the homeless living nearby – requires an almost total lack of thought. Wonderful.
Boy Playing With Jet Fighter Kite
A child plays with an F-15 Eagle attached to a string like a kite. This one is in Tel Aviv, so the messages have got to be ‘Teaching children to hate is bad’ and ‘Bombing Palestinian civilians is bad’. These are very profound insights, and it’s quite edgy so it makes your spare room look really cool.
In one of many murals featuring rats, a rat with a long-lens camera is clearly a paparazzo. It might be a nod toward Banksy’s aversion to fame, or it may be saying the paparazzi are rats in the ‘amoral disgusting scum’ sense. You can’t argue with that. Of course you daren’t admit you just like the rats because they’re cute – which is fine – and instead blather on about him ‘challenging our preconceptions of what constitutes art’ and similar hackneyed bollocks.