Who is Vhils?
Alexandre Farto alias Vhils was born in Lisbon in 1987 and is considered a contemporary urban archaeologist. Having grown up in an industrial suburb of Lisbon, he is strongly influenced by the urbanisation there in the 1980s and 90s. He is fascinated by how these changes affect the structure of the urban landscape. This inspires him to draw parallels to principles of New Realism and the psychogeography of Situationism.
At the age of thirteen, he already began to leave his "tags" and "stencils" in streets and on trains. Later, he studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London and developed his unique style there: he removes the upper layers of walls with unconventional tools and thus creates portraits of a special kind.
Vhils in the "25 Years" exhibition at MUCA Munich
At MUCA, Vhils' anniversary exhibition (06.10.2022 - 10.09.2023) featured "Dwindle Series #03″of 2019 (pictured above), an artwork etched into a metal plate, and Acumen Series#02, an advertising poster processed using one of Vhils' special ablation techniques.
How does Vhils work?
Vhils addresses the impact of global development and homogenisation on landscapes and identities. True to his motto: destroy to create something new, he creates powerful and poetic images designed to humanise public space.
He often uses tools such as drills or explosives to better remove the layers of wall and plaster. By removing the upper layers of the wall, he gives his portraits a haptic effect. Similar to a modern archaeologist, the artist wants to depict and expose every single layer and stage of the city's history, as well as its influence on the inhabitants. Another aim of his work is to reflect the destruction and decay of the urban environment caused naturally.
Farto's special working technique forms the basis for his "Scratching the Surface" project. This was presented for the first time at the VSP Group Exhibition in Lisbon 2007, then the following year at the Cans Festival in London.
From the favelas in Rio to the Centre Pompidou
Since 2005, Vhils has presented his work worldwide at exhibitions, events and in other contexts - from projects with communities in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to collaborations with renowned institutions such as the Centre Pompidou or the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
Vhils experiments with a variety of different media in addition to his unique ablation technique. In addition to video installations, he has also produced various music videos and short films.