Bansky’s long-term antagonist King Robbo has died age 45. He had been in a vegetative state since 2011 when he was found at the bottom of a flight of stairs with a head trauma. His team and friends paid tribute to him, after he died on Thursday, claiming he “changed the art world forever”. For many years an ongoing feud between the internationally acclaimed Banksy and King Robbo resulted in a tit for tat defacing of their graffiti.
In 2012 in a statement released on Street Art blog Sabotage Times, Team Robbo have spoken in depth about the origins of the high-profile clash between their leader King Robbo and the internationally acclaimed Banksy.
Back in the 1980s, King Robbo was ‘a legend of the London graffiti scene’, and a key proponent of ‘The London Style’. He was also a member of several crews including the infamous crew – WRH (We Rock Hard). But, but the early 2000s, Robbo had gone into retirement until Banksy ‘gave him ‘the kick up the arse’ to make a come-back into the writing scene when he created a piece of street art over Robbo’s now quintessential ‘Robbo Inc’ piece, next to the Camden Canal in December 2009’.
‘Given the etiquette of the graffiti world, that is well known to most writers and street artists, there is considerable speculation about Banksy’s motives for engaging with Robbo’s original piece and he probably did not anticipate the explosive effect that his artistic intervention would have’, Team Robbo explain.
‘An international graffiti art movement is never going to be entirely cohesive’, they add, and so conflict is inevitable. ButThe artistic battle that has waged for over two years between Team Robbo and Team Banksy (now a popular way of describing his crew) on both the street and in the media is of course a tongue in cheek ‘war’; in some ways a pointless and absurd struggle’. But, they say, it has ‘a serious sub-text’: ‘The ‘war’ has served the useful purpose of flushing out several pre-conceived ideas that surrounded street art and graffiti and has also provided a fresh public perspective, as well as fuelling a vociferous debate.’