The outstanding work of this Portuguese graffiti artist has taken the art world by storm. He is Alexandre Farto, who identifies himself as Vhils on Instagram. And what he is doing is certainly world-class.
This exceptional graffiti artist would have remained unsung, had he not carved a face into a wall alongside a picture by the world-famous street artist, Banksy at the Cans Festival in London in 2008. He shot into prominence when his photo, showing him creating his work, was published on the front page of ‘The Times’. Since then, there was no looking back for him. In fact, Banksy’s agent even gave him space to show his work.
Born in Seixal, a suburb of Lisbon, Portugal, Vhils studied art at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London, UK. What really influenced his art was the transformations brought about by the intensive urban development in the country in the 1980s and 1990s. To make his art stand out, he developed his own bas-relief carving technique that is hailed as one of the most compelling approaches to street art in the last decade. His technique ranges from stencil painting to metal etching, pyrotechnic explosions, and video to sculptural installations.
Although his art is described as complex, it is actually a form of visual poetry, imbued with a simplicity that touches viewers’ hearts. His art is also a reflection on contemporary urban societies that explores the differences between the global and local realities. In fact, he is more of an archaeologist, who exposes the superficiality of things and unravels the beauty of the discarded reality buried underneath.
Vhils’s works have been displayed in more than 300 countries around the world in both solo and group exhibitions. He has also collaborated with some reputed art institutions, such as the EDP Foundation in Lisbon; Center Pompidou in Paris; Barbican Center in London; CAFA Art Museum in Beijing; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in San Diego, among others.
Besides, Vhils has also directed short films and music videos, and one stage production. He lives and works in both London and Lisbon and has over 464,000 fans on Instagram alone.