Banksy clues from 30-year-old album cover ‘might reveal artist’s true identity’

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    The truth behind Banksy's identity might have been lying on a 30-year-old album cover this whole time, according to an art expert.

    It comes after it emerged the world's most elusive artist might finally be unmasked as he and his company face a court battle.

    MailOnline reported last night (Monday, October 2) that Bristol-born Robin Gunningham, 53, is named alongside Pest Control Ltd in a legal action accusing him of defamation. And there were other instances in recent years when Gunningham's name was put forward in relation to the anonymous graffiti artist.

    READ MORE: Banksy could finally be unmasked as elusive graffiti artist is named in court battle

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    But the Banksy trail might actually start much earlier, with the album artwork Gunningham made for Bristol-based band Mother Samosa's 1993 album Oh My God its Cheeky Clown. It is believed to be the only artwork Gunningham has put his real name to, and coincides roughly with when Banksy started working.

    Artist and academic Dr Benedict Carpenter van Barthold told the Daily Star "it's very difficult to know" whether the album sleeve is the work of Banksy or not, but a song scrawled on the front is perhaps one giveaway.

    It is titled Master of Disguise and includes the following lyrics: "Bars won’t hold me. Within my crafty repertoire. The art of escapology. Nowhere to run. I’ve 20-20 vision and. I’m rather handy with a gun."

    Dr Carpenter van Barthold said: "This takes us straight away to thinking about Banksy's identity and how he has managed to evade being named for so long. Is that a spray 'gun'? It could be, couldn’t it? Because my view is that Robin Gunningham could indeed be Banksy."

    Dr Carpenter van Barthold also highlighted some artistic themes in Gunningham's album artwork that appear in Banksy's work. He said: "The first thing is that Banksy is very well-known for combining opposites into one image and this artwork works in the same way – there's the clown wielding a cleaver. Now these aren't two things that are naturally associated.

    "You get the same thing with Banksy's artwork as well. For instance, picture the famous image of the policemen kissing. It's not something you would expect policemen to do. Policemen are – quite wrongly – associated with heteronormative, perhaps even authoritarian and conservative behaviour. So when you see an image of them kissing, that's arresting – if you'll pardon the pun."

    Dr Carpenter van Barthold pointed to similarities between the "fairground of fear" image, which appears on the bottom left of the album artwork, and Banksy's Dismaland project from 2015 – a grim, dilapidated theme park installation.

    "So those things – the subversion of images, the punning, the contradiction, the potential links with Banksy’s future work – do point in that direction [of Gunningham being Banksy]," the academic said.

    However there is also a school of thought opposing the 'Banksy is Gunningham' view, with some suggesting Banksy might be a collection of people rather than just one man.

    Dr Carpenter van Barthold added: "This album art is for a band called Mother Samosa – a band is a group of people. And Banksy’s company employs large numbers of people. Lots of artists work in groups these days and street art is often carried out by crews – which are more than one person.

    "So to try and pin all of this on one person is a very old-fashioned art world way of thinking, which might not actually reflect what is truly going on here."

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