You will have to agree that Banksy is perhaps the most famous and possibly the best stencil graffitist in contemporary times, even if you are not into street art. It is just a pseudonym for a British artist who uses street art as a form of social and political commentary and his style is distinctively satirical, however his works are paraded quite illegally around Britain. He started as an underground artist and he has recently achieved commercial success, his works selling at public auctions for crazy amounts of money.
Having said that, while in London, I set out to locate and document every surviving Banksy work. Most of them I soon realize are no longer available - either erased purposely by legal properly owners or erased through natural wear and tear expected of street arts being, well, in the streets where they are exposed to elements - but thankfully there are a number that still stand. It took me days to locate them given that they are at different parts of London, and I had to contend with unnaturally (or dare I say naturally) cold London weather and the frenzied commute as I foolishly decided to do this quest during the Olympics season.
I have to say that at whatever state his works are, I am still impressed. And I will continue to be a fan even if he has been criticized as a 'sell out' which I seriously disagree with. His works are well documented (there are books published, check out your nearest decent bookstore) aimed to promote his issues and to put context or explanation for his mindset. If you missed to understand his movie "Exit Through the Gift Shop", it was to demonstrate that his art was not for this [commercial] purpose and that anyone (yes, just about anyone!) can make art.
Coincidentally, while I was loitering absentmindedly in the streets of Portobello Road in Notting Hill, Bajoy who was queuing at a crepe stall, instinctively recognized Banksy's biggest work of art, Mr. Brainwash, himself! He was walking alone while munching some bruschetta. And apart from two other gentlemen in bicycle, nobody else recognized him. The beyotch who does not normally get fuzzed with celebrities abandoned her crepe queue, chatted with him for a few minutes and asked for a photo with him in his quite shabby glory (paint splattered jeans).
Apparently Mr Brainwash (Thierry Guetta) has a running exhibition at the Old Sorting Office in West End.
I did not find Banksy the person (but who will anyway? he could be Prince Charles, for all I care!) but my quest to chase his works has been a success.