Yesterday, London-based graffiti artist King Robbo passed away at the age of 45. In 2011, Robbo was put into an induced coma after an unexplained brain injury. He spent the next three years on life-support before his death.
King Robbo had been writing graffiti for 30 plus years, and in more recent times had been been making a serious comeback. In 2009, before the accident that led to his injury, Robbo began a two-year feud with British street artist Banksy. The battle went back and forth for two years making headlines, prompting interviews, and was the subject of a documentary aired on national television.
In 1985, King Robbo painted this peice under a bridge in northern London, a wall only accessible by crossing water on a boat. For 30 years the piece remained untouched, becoming the oldest graffiti in London.
In 2009, Banksy covered it with a stencil.
King Robbo came out of retirement on Christmas day in 2009 to take back what was his, while incorporating Banksy’s work.
Shortly after in 2010, Banksy retaliated.
The battle continued for a while longer until Robbo’s injury. His mural was restored to its original form in December of 2011 with the help of friends.
The back and forth of Knig Robbo and Banksy was in no way limited to this wall. The two had a very public battle of art. It is confirmed that Banksy instigated the battle and has since paid his respects after learning of his illness and recent death. Banksy has published a concise tribute on his site.
Friends, family and admirers have also posted words Robbo’s website:
“So sad to hear that the big man has left us. A true pioneer and legend of the scene, never wavering in the face of challenge. The body may be gone but the spirit carries on and legends never truly die. Tag the pearly gates Robbo and create a top to bottom whole Heaven. Rest in Piece.”
“Such sad news, Robbo inspired many for such a long time, and recently he inspired a whole new generation with every thing that happened. Remembered in paint.” – rob syne
“A shining light has gone out in the world. My heart is heavy hearing this news and my thoughts go to your family and friends. The Merry Christmas train throw up will always remain my favourite piece since my interest in graff began. RIP, a true pioneer and legend. ” – Louise