Who Is Bambi, the Artist Behind Kim Kardashian’s Wedding-Gift Portrait?
When news broke about Kanye’s—er, romantic?—wedding gift to his wife, we were excited to finally talk about something other than Kimye’s shenanigans: Who is the elusive female Banksy?
I’m seriously sick of Kimye.
So, I couldn’t help but be relieved when they had said their final vows and the wedding of the year was over. It meant a breath of fresh air as the #worldsmosttalkedaboutcouple went into seclusion (one I hoped would last at least a month—or 20) for a romantic honeymoon…to Ireland?
But a break was not to be had. News broke Sunday that Kanye West gifted his new bride with a portrait—of herself. The painting depicts the middle Kardashian from behind, posed provocatively wearing only a thong and Louboutins and is titled “Perfect Bitch.” But, for once, the question isn’t what did Kimye do this time, but rather, who is Bambi, the portrait’s elusive creator?
“Something regal but typically Kim,” West reportedly instructed Bambi, a secretive street artist who has been nicknamed the “female Banksy.” I guess she had a hard time finding anything “regal” about Kim, but she’s spot on with the “typical.” Snaps for Bambi.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Bambi, you’re not alone. Like most graffiti artists, she keeps a low profile and her identity is a secret. Much like her brother-in-crime Banksy, the artist’s work deals with subversive and politically satirical themes, using primarily spray -paint, diamond dust, and gold leaf through stencil.
In 2011, the 30-something artist gained sudden notoriety for her graffiti work of Amy Winehouse. The portrait, titled Amy Jade, depicts the tattooed songstress with her signature beehive hairstyle in a yellow dress. It appeared in Camden near the late singer’s home shortly after her untimely death.
The following year, a tribute to the Queen’s diamond jubilee was in the works—a portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth II as the “Queen of Diamonds”—and soon appeared on a gritty suburban street in London.
Aside from the occasional trending story, the artist is surprisingly unknown to most—despite her strong celebrity following that includes commissions from Adele, Harry Styles, Rihanna, and Robbie Williams.
This year alone, she has seen multiple major celebrity purchases.
In addition to West, actress Michelle Rodriguez commissioned a portrait of her then-girlfriend, supermodel Cara Delevingne. The image depicted Delevingne’s face outlined in monochrome with her piercing blue eyes and red lips starkly highlighted in bold colors. When the two reportedly split in May, Rodriguez had the portrait returned to the artist.
Brad Pitt seems to be her biggest celebrity fan, having purchased a handful of works, including a portrait of Justin Bieber in May for his son, Pax. Earlier acquisitions included a $100,000 canvas replica of Prince William and Kate Middleton with the slogan “Just like Marmite,” a reference to the spread’s slogan “You’ll either love it or you’ll hate it.”
When word leaked in May of 2013 that the artist was a “world-famous singing star,” her close celebrity relationships made a little more sense. And when Bambi’s manager, Lenny Villa, confirmed the rumor, speculations began to fly. Victoria Beckham, Geri Halliwell, M.I.A., and Paloma Faith have all been offered up as possible identities of the artist-in-disguise.
But, a former Spice Girl-turned-street artist seems a bit implausible. First of all, both Beckham and Halliwell have surpassed the 40-year mark. Secondly, as much as we all want to imagine Posh Spice in her LBD spray-painting walls in the middle of the night, it just doesn’t seem to fit.
Paloma Faith and M.I.A. (who published a book of personal artworks in 2012) seem to be more legitimate speculations, especially considering both of the singers graduated from Central St. Martin’s School of Art—the same as Bambi—and are of a similar age.
Given Bambi’s similarities with the wildly popular Banksy, her connection to so many celebrities, and the possibility that she could also be a super-successful songstress, why has she not become a household name? It may be due to the fact that she is predominantly London-based, whereas Banksy has left his mark on major cities throughout the world, including residencies in New York and Los Angeles.
Another factor could be simply that the artist is a woman. The sexism in the art world is a hotly debated topic. According to a report by U.K.-based Fawcett Group, 67 percent of galleries who attended London’s Frieze Art Fair in 2012 represented less than a third women.
Whatever the case, Bambi’s success—and notoriety—continues to increase thanks to the support of her well-connected buyers, ensuring that her commissioned work of art for Kanye’s piece-of-work wife will not be her last.