VHILS – has a double exhibition coming up in Paris at Danysz Gallery and Centquatre, the first of such a scale in France. This Exhibition will be an overview of his work to date.
Using the entire over 27,000 sq ft exhibition space of the Centquatre in Paris, the exhibition aims to encourage visitors to explore and reflect on the nature of the contemporary urban environment in both its local and global dimensions.
Using the city and some of its most expressive components – both as subject matter and as prime materials – with the objective of examining the essence of contemporary urban societies, VHILS artistic practice has sought to dissect and juxtapose the symbolic imagery and visual tropes of the city with the identity of its citizens in order to form a reflection on how individuals are both shaped by and help shape their surrounding environment. In connection with this context, it has also sought to reflect on the current model of globalised development and the increasingly uniform imprint it is leaving on urban societies worldwide.
The VHILS exhibition intends to be an in-depth reflection on the present day urban condition, establishing a direct dialogue with the local citizens and their daily context, while also highlighting similarities and contrasts between these and the global reality they are a part of – exploring the quotidian tension that lies between the individual and the demanding urban contexts where the majority of the world’s population lives today. In this sense, the projected exhibition at CentQuatre displays works and installations that reflect the particularities of the local landscape. It also seeks to express a dialogue of contrasts between the human and technological elements present in this contemporary urban equation by exploring manual and mechanical techniques in sharp contrast to each other. This very concept is materialized in the dual condition presented in the exhibition layout as it divides the building into two different areas: the left-hand side showcases artworks entirely crafted by hand, while the right-hand side of the building displays artworks crafted with recourse to digital and mechanical means.
Among the many artworks produced for the exhibition CentQuatre features giant installations, immersive rooms and sculpted areas. The exhibition will be an exhaustive display of all the techniques VHILS uses in his work: from upcycled billboards to carved wooden doors or installations made of light or tons of rubbish.
Opening at the Centquatre : Saturday May 19th from 14:00
Opening at the Danysz Gallery : Saturday May 19th from 18:00 to 21:00
Exhibition presented from May 19th to July 29th
The Centquatre – 5 Rue Curial, Paris www.104.fr/en/who-are-we
Danysz Gallery – 78 rue Amelot, Paris magdagallery.com
Alexandre Farto aka VHILS, Lisbon, Portugal © Alexander Silva
About The Artist
Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto (1987) has been interacting visually with the urban environment under the name of Vhils since his days as a prolific graffiti writer in the early- to mid-2000s.
His groundbreaking carving technique – which forms 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 at the Cans Festival in London the following year –, has been hailed as one of the most compelling approaches to art created in the streets in the last decade.
This striking form of visual poetry, showcased around the world in both indoor and outdoor settings, has been described as brutal and complex, yet imbued with a simplicity that speaks to the core of human emotions. An ongoing reflection on identity, on life in contemporary urban societies and their saturated environments, it explores themes such as the struggle between the aspirations of the individual and the demands of everyday life, or the erosion of cultural uniqueness in the face of the dominant model of globalised development and the increasingly uniform reality it has been imposing around the world. It speaks of effacement but also of resistance, of destruction yet also of beauty in this overwhelming setting, exploring the connections and contrasts, similarities and differences, between global and local realities.
Vhils grew up in Seixal, an industrialised suburb across the river from Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, and was deeply influenced by the transformations brought on by the intensive urban development the country underwent in the 1980s and 1990s. He was particularly inspired by the way city walls absorb the social and historical changes that take place around them. Applying his original methods of creative destruction, Vhils digs into the surface layers of our material culture like a contemporary urban archaeologist, exposing what lies beyond the superficiality of things, restoring meaning and beauty to the discarded dimensions buried beneath.
An avid experimentalist, he has been developing his concept of the aesthetics of vandalism in a plurality of media – from stencil painting to wall carvings, from pyrotechnic explosions to 3D modelling, from installation to music videos – which have enabled him to expand the boundaries of visual expression.
His unique approach and artwork have been garnering critical acclaim around the world.
[Text: Miguel Moore]