Vhils destroys to create. Not yet 30 years-old, he is a Portuguese street artist who openly operates under his real name, Alexandre Farto. His internationally recognised trademark is the forming of dramatic, oversized portraits made by carving directly into outdoor walls. The process often involves industrial methods such as drilling and controlled explosions.
The majority of Vhils's subjects are anonymous and formerly unremarkable urban citizens. In a 2011 interview with UK Wired magazine, the artist said of this direction "They are all people I have met briefly in cities where I have created murals. I like the idea of turning ordinary, common people into icons, to contrast this with the need people seem to have to create icons in the first place. Instead of creating icons out of people who have changed history, like what Warhol was doing with Mao and others, I take an ordinary person and try and make people think about the ordinary citizens who struggle everyday to eke a living in contemporary society." An exception is a 2012 mural made in Vivey, Switzerland, interpreting Renee Burri's famous photograph of a latter-day Che Guevara.
Vhils pioneered the use of TNT in his "sculptures" with a tour de force music video demonstrating his own detonative techniques, made for the track MIRIAM by Portuguese fusion band Orelha Negra.
Vhils's gallery work includes portraits on found objects and the use of man-made materials, often second-hand. Advertising hoardings are selectively torn to reveal contrasting colours from the older fly posters underneath.
“With my work, I try to delve into the several layers that compose the edifice of history, to take the shadows cast by this model of uniform development to try and understand what lies behind it.” (Vhils)
“In this act of excavating, it’s the process itself which is expressive, more than the final result. It’s a process of trying to reflect upon our own layers.” (Vhils)
Vhils’ work reaches to uncover the essence of things - to show what lies beneath.
Biography courtesy Lazarides Gallery