Who is itVhils?
Vhils grew up in Seixal, an industrialized suburb across the river from Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, and was profoundly influenced by the transformations brought about by the intense urban development the country underwent in the 1980s and 1990s. Alexandre Farto was particularly inspired by the way city walls absorb the social and historical changes taking place around them. In his large-scale murals and smaller works on doors and wood paneling, Alexandre Farto, also known as Vhils, combines detailed figuration with an involved material process: tearing or perforating, in order to make his images (predominantly portraits) inextricable from the material itself. With this subtractive process, Vhils unites elements of painting and sculpture and reflects on how the built environment absorbs change and social development. Vhils exhibited in cities around the world and produced collaborations with several institutions, including the EDP Foundation in Lisbon, the Center Pompidou, the Barbican Centre, the CAFA Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
1.Compact Life - Lisbon, Portugal, 2006
The history of Alexandre Farto he started on the street at the age of 13, but quickly moved to a museum space when, at the age of 17, he had his first exhibition with the Vera Cortês art gallery. In 2003, Vera Cortês Art Agency came up with the idea of creating an agency business for artists, mainly young people on the rise. The concept went well enough to support the opening of its own gallery in 2006. With great optimism, Vera Cortês, in this time of great creative frenzy, accompanied artists – many of them little known at the time, such as Alexandre Farto (Vhils), and Daniel Blaufuks, focusing on the internationalization of the gallery.
Vhils and gallerist Vera Cortês met in 2004. Alexandre Farto he stated: “Betting on such a young artist “was a risk”. At the high, Vhils I was looking for a gallery that “respected my work. I didn't want to be making canvases”, he recalls. Vera Cortês gave him the opportunity, in 2005, to hold a small exhibition, starting with a partnership that lasts until today.
2.Scratching the Surface
One of the fundamental concepts of the work of Vhils resides in the act of destruction as a creative force, a concept that I brought from graffiti – a work process through removal, decomposition or destruction linked to the overlapping of historical and cultural layers that compose us. In 2008 he took part in the Cans Festival in London, where his innovative digging technique – which forms the basis of the “Scratching the Surface” series – was exposed to an international audience for the first time, to critical acclaim.
Vhils stated: "I believe that, in a symbolic way, if we remove some of these layers, leaving others exposed, we can bring up something of what we left behind".
He uses explosives and pneumatic hammers to sculpt and add texture, a technique he has been developing. But not only that, it also uses bleach, cleaning products, corrosive acids and coffee along with traditional sprays, stencils and paints.
3.Calçada (Portrait of Amália Rodrigues), 2015
Vhils became known for the faces of strangers but also important figures in the history of Portugal. An example of this is the public order, a unique piece created in Portuguese pavement that pays homage to the late Fado diva Amália Rodrigues (1920-1999). Located in the center of Lisbon, the piece entitled “Calçada” is a collaboration with the City Council's flooring team. Evoking Fado – the Portuguese urban musical genre par excellence – and the city of Lisbon that Amália sang so well, it is also a tribute to the pavilions themselves as the city’s oldest urban artists responsible for the development of a unique decorative art that has become The visual identity of Portugal.
4.Portugal, Throwback to the Future, 2016
“Portugal, Throwback to the Future”, an extensive multidisciplinary installation of Vhils and ±MaisMenos±, takes advantage of the poetic decadence of the old installations of a sawmill in the center of Viseu to weave a remarkable reflection that starts from the reality of a post-financial rescue of Portugal to reflect on its condition of hostage of international institutions and loss of self-government, about the uncertainty surrounding its future, but also about its relationship with Europe and its own future at a time when conflicting internal pressures seem to have brought it to the brink of an abyss, reviving historical tensions that were thought to have been resolved and buried in the comfort of a comprehensive and harmonious model. A reflection that gains relevance in the post-British referendum reality, which also explores themes such as the resurgence of populism, the north-south division, xenophobia and demagoguery, the relativization of the achievements of the European model that, despite everything, its flaws , needs to be renovated inside. A reflection, in short, on the possibilities for the future of Portugal and Europe at a critical historical moment.
Vhils presented his work in more than 40 countries in individual and group exhibitions, art interventions site-specific and projects in various contexts – from working with communities in Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro and Shanghai to collaborations with art institutions such as the Center Pompidou (Paris), Barbican Center (London), CAFA Art Museum (Beijing), MAAT (Lisbon), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Le Centquatre-Paris, (Paris), Victoria & Albert Museum (London), among others. An avid experimentalist, Vhils has been developing her personal aesthetics in a variety of media, in addition to her sculptural technique: from stencil painting to metal engraving, from pyrotechnic explosions and video to sculptural installations. He has also directed several music videos, short films and two stage productions.Vhils it is present analogically but also in virtual form, with some NFTs. The first consisted of a video that captured the exact moment when the explosives that the Portuguese artist uses in his work – destroyed in the form of creation. The video was filmed through slow motion advanced, including 2000 frames per second, which offers a unique experience and perspective on Alexandre Farto's unique creation process. “Rupture” is part of META_VS: A CRYPTO ART EXPERIENCE IN 3 METAVERSES, a BEYOND THE STREETS action that aims to promote the artistic community on blockchain through exhibitions, piece releases, exclusive artist collaborations and conversations on ClubHouse and YouTube. Vhils has been using everything from scalpels and chisels to drills, jackhammers and even explosives to destroy crumbling walls, revealing realistic faces of local and often marginalized residents. Now the artist has passed this message to NTFS, being the first experience in Portugal with these cryptoassets.