Why does Banksy remain anonymous

art: Banksy - the famous phantom in the graffiti scene

London (AP) - He is world famous, but nobody knows his real name or has ever really seen him. British graffiti artist Banksy's identity is a secret. And has been for over 25 years when he started spraying walls and trains in his hometown of Bristol.

Since then he has led his artistic guerrilla struggle against authorities all over the world. Banksy is known for his expressive, mostly controversial and socially critical motifs. War, fascism or the excessive consumer behavior of society have given him enough material for his work for decades.

"Shop till you Drop" (in English: shop till you drop), with the falling woman and the shopping cart, is one of the few graffiti that can still be seen by Banksy in London. He wrote in one of his books: "We cannot change the world until capitalism crumbles. In the meantime, we should all go shopping to comfort ourselves."

Since Banksy came to London in the late 1990s, he has left his colorful works of art in many places in the capital. Over time, however, many motifs were painted over or removed.

Because graffiti spraying is illegal in the UK. "It can be punished with up to ten years in prison," says Josh. He is an artist and gives street art tours through the East End of London - the street art paradise of the British capital. Young people face up to two years in prison. "That's why the motto for Banksy and the street art scene in general is: be as fast as you can. The longer you take a subject, the higher the chance of getting caught," says Josh.

Because Banksy was almost caught spraying by the police at a young age, as he allegedly once said in an interview, he switched to stencils that he still works with today. "He can prepare it in peace and then spray detailed graffiti in a very short time without taking any risks," explains Josh.

Many would like to know who the anonymous artist is. Just a few days ago, a British DJ gossiped during an interview and said - allegedly - the artist's first name: Robert. With that, speculation about his identity picked up speed again.

There are a number of theories out there: Many believe that Banksy is a 40-year-old man from Bristol. Or he could actually be Robert Del Naja, lead singer of the band Massive Attack. Or is it the artist Robert Gunningham? Banksy may be a collective of seven people led by a woman.

Many observers associate the issue of social justice and the way it is presented with women. You can put yourself in the shoes of others better. In addition, children can be found in many motifs. British journalists have attempted to unravel Banksy's identity in the past. But so far nobody has succeeded.

Man or woman: That a new graffito is a "real" Banksy can now be verified. A specially set up certification office called "Pest Control" provides information about the authenticity of a new motif. It is said to have been set up by Banksy himself. "So that no one sits on a fraud", as it says on the website of the service.

Unimpressed by the speculation about his identity, Banksy continues. In March of this year he opened the "Walled Off" hotel in Bethlehem. "The worst-looking hotel in the world," he says. It stands in the West Bank and offers a direct view of the wall that separates Israel and the West Bank. Inside there are several graffiti by the artist.

At the first exhibition of Banksy works in Germany in Munich in 2016, gallery owner Sarah Kronsbein said: "For us, Banksy is the most brilliant urban artist." What he has to say is wonderfully ironic, subtle and often astute to the point.

Certification office

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