Success feels like failure, says Banksy during rare interview


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The Independent Culture

Banksy, the graffiti artist who rose from street scene to become an auctioneers’ darling, may abandon galleries for a return to his roots.

The secretive artist, whose work came to prominence in the Bristol underground graffiti scene but now is more likely to be found in New York auction houses, said he “started painting on the street because it was the only venue that would give me a show”.

In a rare interview, via email, he added that since he became a household name, collected on both sides of the Atlantic, he had to “keep painting on the street to prove to myself it wasn’t a cynical plan”. He told New York’s Village Voice: “Commercial success is a mark of failure for a graffiti artist. We’re not supposed to be embraced in that way.”

Banksy, who is widely believed to be called Robin Gunningham and recently began an month-long unofficial “residency” painting the streets of New York, said graffiti artists needed to “get paid” otherwise “you’d only get vandalism made by part-timers and trust-fund kids”.

The Oscar-nominated director of the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop added: “But it’s complicated, it feels like as soon as you profit from an image you’ve put on the street, it magically transforms that piece into advertising.”