"Everytime I think I've painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek Le Rat has done it as well. Only twenty years earlier..."
Born Xavier Prou in Boulogne-Billancourt in 1951, Blek le Rat is widely regarded as “The Godfather of Stencil Graffiti” and a leading pioneer in the world of Street and Urban Art.
Blek has exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world but his career began on the streets of Paris in the late 1970s. Blek's images became synonymous with the urban Paris landscape and so an enigma was born in the Parisian underground.
In 1994 after being arrested for graffiti in Paris, Blek realised he would have to change his approach to stay out of jail. His modus operandi remained ‘Art for the People’ but the creation and application of his images was amended. Now the artist only worked with pre-produced images, creating stencils in the studio before heading out to the street, citing the speedier application of the medium to walls, as well as lessened punishment should he be caught in the act.
Blek’s iconic images are often of a classical influence and romance plays a big part of the artist’s oeuvre. However many also take on a more socially-aware and poignant tone. One such campaign followed the kidnapping of French journalist Florence Aubenas in Iraq in 2005. In a bid to provoke reaction and influence the politicians and journalists who could aid her release, Blek pasted hundreds of stencil-stlye portrits of Aubenas round the streets of Paris. His mission, which in turn led to Aubenas' release, garnered incredible public support and furthered his ‘Art for the People’ vision.
Blek le Rat. A true maverick.
The artist lives and works from his studio in Paris.
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