Image by:  KylaBorg 

There’s nothing like an artistic
enigma to get the juices flowing and tongues wagging. The most (in)famous and
notorious street artist, Banksy, has spent years working under the shroud of
anonymity, teasing, taunting, revelling and delighting in wrong-footing critics
and fans. It’s part of the allure – the mystique and the art.

But Banksy had better watch
out – there’s a new girl in town and she goes by the name of Bambi. Equally covert
and enthralling, she’s roamed the streets of London with stencils and spray
cans, dodging the London ‘rozzers’.

In a reasonably short period
of time, she’s been thrust into the limelight – whilst simultaneously,
brilliantly remaining incognito – and the alluring, inseparable worlds of
wealth and glamour.

 

She’s attracted the attention
of a raft of A-list celebrity collectors, including Brad Pitt, Robbie Williams
and Adele. Rapper, Kanye West, even presented a semi-nude portrait of his
bride, Kim Kardashian, as a wedding gift. Bambi’s status went
stratospheric.   

 

The Conundrum of Identity

But the question still
remains – exactly who is Bambi? Dubbed ‘the female Banksy’, she really came to
the public’s attention with her arresting image of Amy Winehouse in 2011 on a
Camden Town doorway. In true Banksy-style anonymity, she defiantly keeps her
identity a secret. 

And, like Banksy, people are
queuing up to buy her work, which can fetch thousands of pounds, and she’s been
specially commissioned to produce works by the cream of the celebrity crop,
such as Angelina Jolie, Robbie Williams and Rhianna.     

Also, like Bristol’s very own
artistic son, Bambi has been at the receiving end of local council opprobrium,
ignorance and all-out defilement: her Amy Winehouse painting was daubed over,
although it was later restored and is now safely protected under a sheet of
Perspex.

 

Attracting the A-Listers

Brad Pitt is believed to have
paid £60,000 for the artist’s wedding portrait of the Duke and Duchess of
Cambridge, marked with the mischievous slogan, ‘A bit like Marmite’. He was so
impressed by Bambi’s work he subsequently went on to commission portraits of
his family. Plus, star of Lost and daughter of maverick filmmaker Robert
Rodriguez, Michelle Rodriguez, commissioned a portrait of her girlfriend.

The accolades and commissions
have kept pouring in, from Robbie Williams’ image of a baby before his own
offspring was born, to former Take That member, Mark Owen’s splashing-of-the-cash
on one of her pieces for his 40th birthday.    

 

The Right to Remain Unknown

Yet despite all the media
hype, relentless attention and popularity, Bambi fiercely defends her
anonymity.

There’s no question she’s
become a sensation in the art world, but being thrust into the artistic
limelight is countered by her need to remain firmly in her own discreet,
personal shadow. It’s a combination that she herself has stated is crucial for
her own security and creative freedom.

And in acknowledgement to
these two behemoths of graffiti art – both outsiders, both intending to cut beneath
the exterior, pretentious gloss of modern art – a recent exhibition at Walton
Fine Arts in London, entitled
When Banksy Met
Bambi
, had works by both artists sitting
next to each other.   

 

Fuelling the Public Curiosity

But despite Bambi’s desire
for anonymity, the public’s thirst just won’t be quelled when it comes to
guessing the artist’s real identity.

What is known about Bambi is that she studied at Central St Martin’s
School of Art, with the recurring and most popular current theory being she is
either Paloma Faith or M.I.A., both of whom went to St Martin’s. Adele and Geri
Halliwell have previously been thrown in the melting pot of conjecture as well.

Bambi’s pieces might not have
the pungent satirical edge, rapier wit or iconic immediacy of Banksy, but
they’re certainly more than a series of bland pastiches or weak homages.  Just look at her 2010 work,
Hero to Zero, the powerful image of a now unstable
Afghanistan-serving ex-soldier. Or, take a look at her depiction of Pope
Benedict XVI – gloriously called

‘Rude Pope’
– of the papal gesturing a
two-fingered salute.   

 

Bambi in the Context of Graffiti Art

The graffiti art movement
originally started in America, but was re-galvanised when it landed in Britain
in 2000 and was primarily reinvented as a market for print-buyers.

But perhaps the more
pertinent question should be what the success of Bambi is doing to the graffiti
art market as a whole. The original modus operandi of street art was to make
some kind of relevant socio-political statement, a movement seeded from urban
alienation, disenchantment, and a potent response to corporate greed and the
wealthy elite. Now, ironically, it has partly become the dominion of the status
and cash-driven few it was originally created to rebel against.    

Along with other urban art
celebrities such as Plastic Jesus, King Robbo, Pure Evil and Stik, the answer
is surely to never forget the reasons for shaking that can and stencilling a
blank wall in the first place:

To innovate, excite, unite,
divide, repel, rebel, incite anger, inflame love, question everything, and
exercise an original artistic voice with something powerful to say.   

While Bambi’s true identity
is still shrouded in mystery, here at ArtGallery.co.uk we have a wide variety
of thought-provoking art pieces by British and international artists whose
identity we can definitely vouch for