So the other night I finally got around to watching Channel 4’s Graffiti Wars, otherwise known as “The documentary about ROBBO.” I have some mixed feelings about it, and obviously want to tread lightly talking about it with ROBBO’s condition (He is currently in a coma), but feel that RJ and I should at least attempt to address the pseudo-documentary.
For those who haven’t seen it yet, and you can over here on 4od online in the UK, the hour long special focuses on UK graffiti writer ROBBO and his ongoing turf war with Banksy. Vandalog has covered the “graffiti war” since the beginning, but pretty much Banksy covered a ROBBO piece along the Camden canal that had been there since the 1980’s and in retaliation ROBBO began writing graff again and he and his team would vandalize Banksy works.
My main issue with the documentary is not the extreme sympathy and bias that Channel 4 shows towards ROBBO throughout or the lack of interviews from street artists (not just all the graff writers that spoke on camera), but actually this alleged success story for ROBBO of him on the brink of becoming a fine artist.
I went back to Pure Evil yesterday (who is featured in the film for hosting ROBBO’s first solo show) to look at some of the unsold works. He has put them on display in the basement, so if you have a chance do go check them out. In all honesty, however, the work is not that great. Now we all know there is a lot of shit out there that people praise, but from a strictly artistic perspective, in my opinion the work is sub-par that was shown in the gallery. He is a graff writer and does amazing graff works, but his gallery work doesn’t reflect that wild style. The film focuses on ROBBO’s dreams of becoming a fine artist in his own right and that is is the crux of my issues. He is not a fine artist and he just used the feud between him and Banksy to make some money. He hadn’t been working for years, but all of a sudden, he used the notoriety of Banksy to get noticed and maneuver his way into the gallery system. Plenty of artists take advantage of publicity to sell art (Eine…), but eventually the work has to stand on its own. ROBBO’s does not. ROBBO might be a “king”, but he is not a great artist.
I am sure people have other views on this, but the documentary could have been more well-rounded and unbiased. It is a tragedy what happened to ROBBO, and my thoughts are prayers go out to his family and friends. If you want to help support ROBBO, there is a fundraiser/art auction taking place next month at Cargo.
Photos courtesy of Channel 4