Scratching the Surface with Portuguese Street Artist “Vhils”

by Matt Forcey

Only 23 years young, contemporary Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto, aka Vhils, chips away at established notions with his destructive approach to street art.  Reverse graffiti, architectural sculpture, creative vandalism?  Whatever you chose to call it, the images he scratches into building facades with jackhammer and pick are downright mesmerizing, haunting even.  Weather-worn faces gazing out from alleyways, lonely apparitions consigned to oblivion.

Vhils found himself bewitched, at the age of thirteen, by local street art in Lisbon (just across the bridge from his hometown of Seixal), launching his own career as an artist by painting graffiti on the sides of railcars.  His repertoire has expanded over the past decade to include sculpture, portraiture, and most recently the creative use of found materials.  Exercising the idea of vandalism as art, brick and plaster are chipped away and advertising billboards are torn, until the remaining material forms the new work.

Watch Vhils deconstruct a new wall image in Portugal:

Vhils, who tries to remain very closely connected with the social and physical environment in his hometown, references his experiences with the homeless and poverty-stricken of Lisbon to inspire his vision.

You can find his faces in Moscow, Italy, London, Portugal and NYC.

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