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Banksy paintings in Park City damaged by disgruntled artist, video claims

Published January 13, 2014 2:57 pm

Park City • A man who says he's a painter uses the clips to rail against Banksy's style, influence on youth.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The video above shows the destruction of a Banksy painting in Park City, but you don't need to bother watching it.

The 4-minute video was posted to YouTube Jan. 4 by "Ricardo Cabeza" and allegedly shows someone spray painting over graffiti artist Banksy's kneeling angel painting. A second video, posted Jan. 5, allegedly shows a failed attempt to destroy another Banksy piece, located on the side of the Java Cow building. And a third video purports to show someone driving up to Park City to film the vandalism.

Both Banksy paintings are located on Main Street in Park City and appeared in 2010 just before Sundance screened his film "Exit Through the Gift Shop." A passerby noticed that someone had vandalized the paintings Dec. 31 and reported the damage to police.

Police believe the videos are authentic and told the Park Record that they are trying to identify the person who posted them. The name "Ricardo Cabeza" may be a pseudonym, police added.

Indeed, "Ricardo Cabeza" translates into "Richard Head" in English, which could be shortened to "Dick Head" — a likely candidate for a fake name.

So why aren't the videos worth watching?

For one thing, the lighting is so low that it's nearly impossible to see anything. The sound of a hammer breaking protective glass over the paintings is audible, as is the sound of spray painting in one of the videos, but that's about it. The videos also include loud, mediocre music and explicit audio of a woman that seems lifted from a porn video.

More importantly, the videos serve primarily as a soapbox for "Ricardo Cabeza," a seemingly bitter and failed artist whose goal is "total Banksy art annihilation." Throughout all the videos, popup notes appear, sharing Cabeza's anti-Banksy manifesto. Among other things, he claims in the notes to want to destroy Banksy works because "teenagers are influenced by his popularity to emulate him," "because Banksy is a communist" and because he "wants your gun rights stripped from you." The notes also repeatedly make the point that Banksy "hates traditional oil painting."

That last point seems the most telling.

In the videos, Cabeza rails against Banksy's supposed lack of talent and respect for traditional art. He also claims that Banksy's works won't last long and that the art establishment has made paupers of actual artists — or, apparently in Cabeza's mind, himself.

"Rick is a WAY better artist than Banksy," one note reads. "Banksy is a sham and his works won't even last one generation."

The videos repeatedly claim that Cabeza has traditional training and knows "how to paint like Velazquez, Vermeer, Raphael and Dali!" The longest of the videos includes photos supposedly showing Cabeza at a gallery that rejected his work.

Other videos posted by Cabeza claim to show the destruction of other Banksy works in other parts of the U.S.

Of course, it's possible that the entire thing is some sort of cheeky joke or performance commentary on graffiti. Banksy himself has often and famously toyed with the definition of art, and there was considerable speculation that Mr. Brainwash — an artist featured in "Exit Through the Gift Shop" — was actually a hoax.

But the petulant, victimized tone of Cabeza's notes and commentary make that reading seem unlikely; for all the time he spends slamming Banksy, the real message seems to be that Cabeza wants more attention for his own work.

— Jim Dalrymple II

jdalrymple@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jimmycdii