French street artist, Blek le Rat is considered the "father of stencil graffiti". Author of the unmistakable rats that invaded the streets of Paris in the eighties, the artist is a reference point for subsequent generations of street artists, Banksy first.
The works by Blek le Rat finally available thanks to the partnership with Wunderkammern Gallery.
Blek le Rat, graffiti artist born in France, is considered one of the pioneers of international street art as well as the "father of Stencil Graffiti". He is still one of the most famous and requested street artists on the market and has a strong influence on the younger generations of street artists, Banksy in primis.
Blek le Rat (Xavier Prou his first name) was born in 1951 in Paris in the Boulogne-Billancourt neighbourhood and in the French capital he began his artistic career in 1981. Under the pseudonym "Blek le Rat", inspired by the Italian comic book "Blec le Roc", he began to paint rats on the walls of the streets of Paris, using the stencil technique.
Defined by the artist as "the only free animal in the city" and one which "spreads the plague everywhere, just like street art", the rat is the icon of Blek le Rat. "Rat" is also an anagram of "Art", a direct juxtaposition of the animal to Street Art.
Blek le Rat is initially influenced by the first works of urban art seen in New York during a trip in 1971. During the eighties, he made in Paris several interventions collaborating with other French street artists. Blek le Rat works anonymous until 1991, when he is arrested (and identified) by the French authorities while stencilling a replica of Caravaggio's Madonna and Child.
Rats are not the only subjects in the works by Blek le Rat. Artworks like the famous stencil by Blek le Rat David and the Madonna and Child draw inspiration from classical art: reinterpreting well-known masterpieces of Western culture, Blek le Rat often depicts this subjects sending strong and socially committed messages.
Blek le Rat art has been exhibited in exhibitions all over the world. From the first solo exhibition in U.K. in 2003 at the Leonard Street Gallery, to the debut in the United States with an exhibition in 2008 at the Subliminal Projects Gallery in Los Angeles: despite the success, the artist has not given up urban interventions and has always supported the potential of street art to be seen by as many people as possible even outside of museums and galleries.
Often associated with Banksy, the stencil technique came to prominence in the art world a few decades earlier and it was thanks to Blek le Rat. Stencil and Street Art merge in the French artist, who uses this technique at such point of being considered the "father of Stencil Graffiti".
“Stencil Graffiti" is a form of graffiti that makes use of stencils made out of paper, cardboard, or other materials to create an image or text that is easily reproducible.
With the Stencil, Blek le Rat made the first rats on the walls of Paris streets and for almost all his artistic career he uses this technique to shape his unmistakable works. The artist stated that he chose this technique because he didn't want to imitate New York graffiti: Blek le Rat wanted to find a unique form of expression that fits the urban environment of Paris and Europe in general. In addition, the stencil minimizes the time it takes to create a work and allows the same image to be reproduced multiple times.
There is no doubt about the huge influence that Blek le Rat has had on subsequent generations of street artists and in particular on Banksy, the anonymous street artist from Bristol who is one of the most popular and sought-after artists in the world. Banksy vs Blek le Rat: the comparison arises spontaneously. But what is the relationship between the two street artists?
The stencil technique is one of the greatest legacies left by Blek le Rat: Banksy makes this technique his own and it is with stencils that he creates his most iconic works. But Banksy is also inspired by Blek le Rat in the choice of subjects for some of his works. This is the case of the series Placard Rat: a cycle of Banksy’s works that represent rats holding placards with messages with strong social and political meaning.
Banksy repeatedly expressed his admiration for the French artist and he declared that "every time I think I've painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek le Rat has done it as well. Only twenty years earlier". Blek le Rat also expressed appreciation for Banksy and denied plagiarism accusations, stating that "I’m the old man, he’s the new kid, and if I’m an inspiration to an artist that good, I love it".
For all Blek le Rat lovers, Deodato Arte Group offers an exclusive selection of works by the street artist, signed in original and provided with certificate of authenticity.