‘We Are All Banksy,’ Says Massive Attack’s Del Naja, Denying Rumors

Are you disappointed?
Robert del Naja of the British group Massive Attack at Queens Square in Bristo,l United Kingdom, on August 25, 2003.
Robert del Naja of the British group Massive Attack at Queens Square in Bristo,l United Kingdom, on August 25, 2003.

Try not to be too disappointed.

Robert “3D” del Naja, co-founder of British trip-hop band Massive Attack, has denied that he is the anonymous street artist Banksy, as asserted by journalist Craig Williams last week.

“We are all Banksy,” Del Naja reportedly told the crowd at a concert in his home city of Bristol.

“Rumors of my secret identity are greatly exaggerated,” he told The Daily Mail, paraphrasing Mark Twain. “It would be a good story but sadly not true. Wishful thinking I think.”

“He is a mate as well,” Del Naja added. “He’s been to some of the gigs. It’s purely a matter of logistics and coincidence, nothing more than that.”

Banksy, "Mobile Lovers," 2014
Banksy, "Mobile Lovers," 2014

In the article, “Banksy: How the World’s Most Elusive ‘Artist’ May in Fact Be ‘Artists,’” Williams offered an alternate theory to the widespread assertion that Banksy’s true name is Robin Gunningham. He pointed out that Banksy works have often appeared at locations where Massive Attack has played concerts, concluding that Del Naja may be directing a group of co-conspirators to create Banksy’s cheeky murals, with their ironic commentary on current events and social issues.

“What if Banksy isn’t the one person everyone thinks he is” asks Williams. “What if Banksy is a group of people who have [been] stenciling different locations both at home and abroad? Such a rich body of work done over a decade, across the globe, may allow for the suggestion.”

Banksy, "Flying Copper," 2004, courtesy of Hexagon Gallery
Banksy, "Flying Copper," 2004, courtesy of Hexagon Gallery

Williams marshals various facts to his argument, including Del Naja’s appearance in “Exit Through the Gift Shop” (2010), the Banksy-directed documentary about street artist Thierry Guetta, aka Mr. Brainwash.

He also pointed out that Banksy praised Del Naja, who was a Bristol graffiti artist early on, in a book about the band: “When I was about 10 years old, a kid called 3D was painting the streets hard. 3D quit painting and formed the band Massive Attack, which may have been a good thing for him, but was a big loss for the city.”

Furthermore, he noted that Massive Attack was to play Banksy’s “bemusement park,” Dismaland, before canceling.

Williams himself seemed to concede that his theory seems a bit fanciful, concluding his paper thus after theorizing that the anonymous artist might be a group:

And perhaps, at the head of such a group we have Del Naja. A multi-disciplined artist in front of one the seminal groups in recent British music history, doubling up as the planet’s most revered street artist. Now that would be cool.

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