Fri, Apr 26, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Tokyo displays rat ‘by Banksy,’ urges artist to reach out

AFP, TOKYO

Tokyo yesterday displayed a drawing thought to be the work of Banksy, as the city’s governor urged the famous and mysterious street artist to get in touch.

Curious Tokyoites, tourists and art lovers flocked to see the work depicting a rat holding an umbrella that was spotted on a panel near a monorail station in central Tokyo.

As ever, doubts rage over whether it is a genuine work by the secretive artist.

“If there are any problems, I’d very much like Mr Banksy to contact the Tokyo Metropolitan Government,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said.

It is unclear exactly when the drawing — which Koike described as a “cute rat” — was painted, but the Tokyo Public Security Bureau has known about the graffiti for a long time.

A rat holding an umbrella is one of Banksy’s most famous artworks and there are photographs on social media dating back several years that appear to show the same drawing.

It was only in December last year that the city government realized it might be a “Banksy” after residents contacted them.

The drawing, behind a protective glass cover, now stands in a corner of the sprawling metropolitan government building.

Viewers voiced hopes that it was genuine.

“What is good is no one knows who he is. I like his being mysterious,” said Riyuko Sato, a woman in her 50s.

Her husband, Toshio, said that the artist was unlikely to contact the government.

Tokyo has been consulting experts, but the work’s authenticity has not yet been confirmed.

The city said that graffiti in public areas is “not acceptable,” but decided to unveil it given the high level of public interest.

Just before the door was taken away in January for storage to protect it from damage, Koike took a photograph of the drawing and tweeted: “There’s a painting of a cute rat in Tokyo which could be Banksy’s work! A gift to Tokyo?”

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