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Banksy frenzy hits Canada: How and why the legendary street artist remains anonymous

The artwork of Banksy shocks, provokes, and forces many to stop in their tracks. But what makes the street artist all the more fascinating is that his identity remains a mystery. The question is, how? And why?

********Watch the video above to learn more about the mystery and hysteria surrounding Banksy and how he’s managed to remain anonymous for so long.

The name Banksy has appeared in headlines across Canada on more than one occasion over the past couple of months.

Much of the news has been thanks to an exhibit in Toronto showcasing 80 original pieces borrowed from private collectors and curated by Banksy’s former agent Steve Lazarides.

READ MORE: Toronto police release video of suspect wanted in theft of Banksy print

Many artists and art lovers alike agree that much of Banksy’s appeal is not only attributed to his subversive stencil art but also to the fact that his identity remains a mystery.

“I am just astonished that in 2018 — social media, surveillance age — that for this long and at this level, we still don’t know who he is,” Emily Carr University of Art + Design​ professor Phil Smith told Global News.

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READ MORE: Canadian Artist Hangs Personal Work In Toronto’s Art Of Banksy Exhibit

While there have been a number of attempts to unmask Banksy over the years and there are a variety of theories about who he really is, none have been confirmed.

“Is it a group of artists? Is it Robert Del Naja from Massive Attack? No one knows and that combination of celebrity and mystery is very very potent,” Smith added.

Lazarides said even if his identity was revealed, no one would believe it.

He worked with Banksy for over a decade and compared a night out with Banksy to a scene out of Ocean’s 11.

In the video above, Lazarides reveals details about the time Banksy smuggled a freeze-dried rat into London’s Natural History Art Museum. He also talks about the many scams, including a “film producer scam” they used to escape authorities.

You’ll also hear from Montreal artist Peter Gibson — AKA Roadsworth — who attempted to use Banksy-esque methods to transform street signs into works of art across the city in the early 2000s.

Street markings in Montreal transformed into art by Peter Gibson/Roadsworth called “dents de lions.”
Street markings in Montreal transformed into art by Peter Gibson/Roadsworth called “dents de lions.” Peter Gibson

He used to be referred to as the Canadian Banksy, until he got caught and arrested in 2004.

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“As soon as I got arrested and outed, and people were able to put a face to the artwork, it diminished the power of the artwork itself,” he said.

“Banksy is aware of that and managed to preserve the mystery and power.”

Global News reached out to Banksy for a phone interview but have yet to hear back.

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