A rat is probably the most symbolic animal in Banksy street art. While you can also notice a monkey being used as an elaborate allegory, rats have been featured in his art since the very first day of his career. What is their place in his murals, and how should people understand the symbolism under Banksy rat art? Here are some ways to explain the abundance of rats in his artworks.
Here, there, and nowhere: Banksy rat art explained
Rats are art and artists
If you have already noticed, the word “rat” is an anagram of the word “art.” While some people give it some real importance, it is more a curious coincidence rather than a reason to build a theory. If rats have anything to do with art, they are all about street artists and street art in particular. Even nowadays, street painters and stencil artists are viewed as vandals and criminals. Despite people fighting against murals, street and graffiti art reappears, with artists starting to embellish street walls again and again. Does it remind you of something? Rats! No matter how hard you try to eliminate those wild rodents, they always come back.
Rats are society
Another possible meaning of Banksy rat art is that it mimics society. If you explore Banksy’s art more closely and attentively, you will notice that many rats have some attributes of human beings. The most obvious ones are clothing and behavior. A rat-painter, rat-rapper, rat-revolutionary, and ray-hippie are all types of people in society. Intentionally or not, Banksy has created a mass parody of people. Using rats, the artists mock people for social and moral dirtiness, as well as exaggerated self-importance.
Whichever version you believe, Banksy rat art makes the image of the street artist even more sophisticated. Are rats an evocation of contemporary street artists, or are they a grim embodiment of society? It is for you to decide.