Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Graffiti War with Banksy, By King Robbo

What began as a “courteous” meeting turned backhand to the face and has started to transform the landscape makeup of the British capital. The background amidst the long-running feud between two of the more prominent names in graffiti folklore, Robbo and Banksy, is finally unveiled. As the two continue their war of words and rework each others territories, we get some insightful details about the battle between the two in this article from Sabotage Times. Offered below is an excerpt into the drama.

The crisp December morning of 2009 where a graffiti legend came out of retirement, donned a wetsuit, scooted across Regents Canal on a blow-up lilo and calmly reclaimed his territory from Banksy has become legend in itself. It was the day Robbo became ‘King Robbo’.

The UK’s notoriously heavy-handed approach to graffiti has seen hefty prison terms and obscene amounts of funding poured into re-painting walls and cleaning trains, rather than say, making sure they run on time and don’t smell of crotch. That in mind, Robbo’s enduring presence as one of the pioneers of old school graffiti in London has long established him as one of the greats of both the UK and international scene. Having initially got into it he admits purely “for selfish reasons and the buzz of seeing your name everywhere” he immersed himself in it just as graffiti was filtering from New York into major cities, unknowingly becoming one of the defining sub-cultures of the 1980s.

“For me it was escapism, I’m creative but I come from a family where you either worked or went into crime so I had no-one pushing me in that direction. They couldn’t understand why I’d work then go out and illegally paint when there’s no money in it. To me graff’s always been rock’n’roll, a way to rebel and be creative”. His prolific and relentless love-affair with graffiti, which he prefers to call “a passion rather than obsession” has earned him a coveted spot in graffiti’s hall of fame. But having settled into relative retirement it was a spat between him and street-art darling Banksy painting over one of his oldest pieces, a 25 year old Robbo legacy on the Camden stretch of Regents Canal, that was to propel him back into the spotlight.

The article in its entirety can be read here.

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