Five Stills By Vhils

Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto, also known as Vhils, is a prolific and varied street artist, who started out as a graffiti writer, in the early-to-mid 2000s. He claims that his street name Vhils, has no real meaning, but simply derives from the fastest set of letters he could apply in a hurry, while working illegally.

  • Born in 1987, Vhils grew up in Seixal, an industrialised suburb across the river from Portugal’s capital, Lisbon. He was deeply influenced by the transformations due to intensive urban development, which occurred during the 1980s and 1990s.

As a teenager, Vhils experimented with bleach and acids, as agents of destruction on train exteriors and poster sites. He then began using pneumatic drills, to excavate sections of walls, to create fascinating 3D murals. Vhils groundbreaking bas-relief carving technique, formed the basis of the Scratching the Surface project, and was first presented to the public at the VSP group exhibition in Lisbon in 2007, and; later at the Cans Festival, in London, in 2008.

  • Described as a contemporary urban archaeologist, Vhils has attained international status for his highly original works, using his signature method of creative destruction and delicate rebuilding of bas-relief sculpture, which protrudes from chiselled-back walls around the world, such as found in Southbank, London and in his native Portugal (See above images).

Since 2005, Vhils has presented his work in over 30 countries around the world; in solo and group exhibitions, site-specific art interventions, artistic events, and; projects in various contexts, from working with communities in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, to collaborations with reputed art institutions, such as:

  • The EDP Foundation (Lisbon),
  • Centre Pompidou (Paris),
  • Barbican Centre (London),
  • CAFA Art Museum (Beijing), and;
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art (San Diego), among others.

An avid art experimentalist, Vhils’ unique approach and artworks have received critical acclaim around the world, not only for his 3D carved murals, but also for his stencil painting, metal etching, pyrotechnic explosions and sculptural installations. He has also directed several music videos, short films, and one stage production.

  • Discover more about Vhils at his website

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