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"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
so, there’s a lot of shit going around about banksy right now.
i’m just going to say here that i’m not a graffiti artist. i very much enjoy graffiti but i don’t make graffiti art and these are simply my personal thoughts as an outside perspective.
first of all, i don’t think that tagging and what banksy does are even in the same league. tagging is a specific statement. it takes space, it is a nonviolent way to fight the legality and oppression of the government. it breaks the law in an artistic way where nobody gets hurt. it’s used to claim territory, to immortalize, and to fight against the powers at be. in most cases, its freestyled. it takes hours. the graffiti community is tight knit and exercises a good amount of respect for one another. graffiti is seen by most as a blemish, strange words or names written fantastically on walls that don’t belong to the artist, without permission, and are often covered up by street cleaners because they depreciate business/real estate value.
i do not find banksy as a graffiti artist because he doesn’t do these things. he’s not a radical and he’s not some kind of political revolutionary. he’s not claiming space for the oppressed, he’s just trying to make a buck on a scene he probably thought was cool.
this would be fine with me, if it wasn’t for the inexcusable tragedy that was the years leading up to King Robbo’s death.
this piece was painted by King Robbo in 1985. It was located under the London Transport Police Headquarters in Camden, London. this place was only accessible by water. when most of Robbo’s other works had been covered up, this one remained. for a while it was the oldest piece in London.
by 2009, the piece had gone the way most tags go, everything is transient and every space is fair game for more people to make their marks. this is the nature of graffiti, and to it King Robbo took no offense.
that year, Banksy painted this. It is a wall painter, removing the piece from the walls. he took the oldest piece of graffiti in london, which was no longer even just King Robbo’s, but an impromptu collaboration between many london graffiti artists, and he disrespected it. if it wasn’t enough that they were getting jailed while banksy was making millions for the same work, he disrespected them. he spit on them. he decided his statement was worth more than the oldest piece of graffiti in london and on top of that, THIS IS A STENCIL. he couldn’t even free-hand it! he decided his LITERAL cookie-cutter street art was more important that Robbo’s only surviving legacy.
insulted, King Robbo replied. he was quoted saying “I was at a place called the Dragon Bar on Old Street. I was introduced to a couple of guys who were like ‘whoa it’s nice to meet you!’. When I was introduced to Banksy, I went ‘Oh yeah I’ve heard of you mate, how you doing?’ and he went ‘well I’ve never heard of you’…he dismissed me as a nobody, as nothing. So with that I slapped him and went ‘oh what you ain’t heard of me? you won’t forget me now will you?’ and with that he picked up his glasses and ran off.” obviously this was an insulting display to King Robbo, who had managed what most graffiti artists can never pull off, he had a timeless piece. he gained some fame, some notoriety. this piece, of all the pieces in london, banksy covered up with a stencil. EVEN SO, Robbo left banksy’s work, whereas banksy deliberately covered his up.
banksy replied. as you can see, very thought provoking. quite profound.
King Robbo corrected the piece.
at this point, an unknown third part covers the wall.
it wasn’t over, as this had become very personal for King Robbo. He painted this work. At this point, many other graffiti artists had already started tagging the streets with “TEAM ROBBO”. many of banksy’s works were being tagged over, like he did to King Robbo’s, in an effort to send a message. Mainstream media called these “defacement” and “vandalism” of banksy Originals, where the travesty against King Robbo went mostly unnoticed outside london and the graffiti community.
as you can see, Team Robbo exploded, giving many of banksy’s pieces the same respect he gave King Robbo’s long-standing artwork.
after being blacked out again, banksy painted this piece. the meaning is lost on me, if you know what it means, let me know. it’s strange and confusing.
this had gone on into 2011, when King Robbo fell into a coma. It was only 5 days before his exhibition, “Team Robbo - The Sellout Tour”. he unfortunately never got to attend his exhibition, and never again woke up. he died in july 2014.
banksy, supposedly making a memorial, made sure he got the last word:
RIP King Robbo.
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