TRIESTE, 25 November 2022 – 10 April 2023

Riva Nazario Sauro, 1
Trieste, 34123 Italia

[Notice to the Reader: in the absence of any certain information about the artist’s identity and his thought, in the text that follows we have decided to offer some suppositions. Most of what is reported is drawn from publications by Banksy and from some more or less authorized interviews he has given in the past.]

“Barcode”, 2004, screenprint on paper, Artrust

Banksy is one of the most popular and controversial contemporary artists. It is still impossible to define Banksy’s character and biography. Many are the conjectures regarding the real name and true identity of the artist, who is born and raised in Bristol. In the early 2000s Banksy is in London, and starts to gain recognition. Swiftly the walls of the city come alive through his ironic, piercing, provocative and snarky characters. Soon it becomes a phenomenon. Banksy’s works are pure message. What is important for the artist is not the form as much as the message; nonetheless, Banksy manages to formally create a personal language, easily recognizable and multicultural. These messages, both in intention and in practice, have to travel not only through the walls, but also through paintings and prints, videos and social media. 

The subjects of his murals – wether painted or printed – have in common an incongruous and unsettling note. Banksy captures our attention and brings us to observe more attentively what we see, in order to understand its true meaning. The artist’s messages of protest are metaphors of the world and of the society we live in (they are mostly centered on war, conformism, migrations, consumerism) which are extremely immediate and hit the heart and the mind. 

In this wide exhibition – unauthorized by the artist like the many international exhibitions centered on him – the will is to guide the attention for the first time on a fundamental aspect of the British artist, one that probably has had an important role in the continuous and progressive rise of his fame: Banksy’s talent as a communicator. The artist absorbed the heritage of self-promoting strategies for the artist (of which Andy Warhol was the founder, developing them through the strength of performance and  global communication). In this frame, Banksy is wrapped in an aura of mystery enhanced by his anonymity, which – by choice and necessity – feeds and defines the traits of this contemporary myth.

Who is Banksy?

I don’t know why people are so keen to put the details of their private life in public; they forget that invisibility is a superpower.

Presumably born in Bristol at the beginning of the 1970s, Banksy is regarded as one of the leading representatives of street art. In 2019 he was ranked fourteenth on ArtReview’s list of the one hundred most influential personalities in the art world. Yet no one, apart from his closest friends and collaborators, knows his identity.

What we do know is that he trained in the underground British scene, where he worked with several artists and musicians. We also know that his artistic output began in the late 1990s. From that moment onwards, he started making his presence felt in many cities – from Bristol and London to New York, Jerusalem, and Venice – with graffiti and various performances and incursions.

I have no interest in ever coming out. I figure there are enough self-opinionated assholes trying to get their ugly little faces in front of you as it is.

There are a number of reasons for Banksy’s choice to remain anonymous: the need to elude the police, given his illegal incursions and graffiti; the need to protect himself, given the satirical background of his works touching upon sensitive issues like politics and ethics; and the desire not to compromise the perception of his identity and works, as the artist himself states.

“Happy Choppers”, 2003, screenprint on paper, Brandler Galleries (Brentwood)



The exhibition, curated by Gianni Mercurio, is promoted by Regione Friuli Venezia Giulia, together with the Comune of Trieste. THE GREAT COMMUNICATOR. BANKSY. is organized by PromoTurismoFVG together with Madeinart.


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