'Dissection', first mainstream exhibition in Portugal for ex-graffiti artist Vhils

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'Dissection', first mainstream exhibition in Portugal for ex-graffiti artist Vhils

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Perched high up on a crane, Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto, known as VHILS, is painstakingly carving out his latest work.

He chips away at buildings he once painted using a hammer and chisel.

VHILS began his trade as an illegal graffiti artist in the early 2000s, but was soon searching for new methods of creation.

“Graffiti is what gave me the attitude for street working, that allowed me to look at public spaces. I believe that background, which was my ‘school’, gave me a lot and I have no problem in acknowledging it. It definitely made me look at the street, not as an escape route in itself, but as a path in itself.”

VHILS uses non-conventional tools and techniques to work the surface layers of walls.

Only material that’s been disposed of or thrown out is used.

His resulting creations are reflections on urban life.

Vhils now has his first solo exhibition in a mainstream Portuguese art museum. The exhibition is called “Dissection”.

“The idea behind the exhibition is to reflect on the impact cities have on the ordinary person who lives there. Especially over the uniformity that those organisms – that’s what I call the cities here – have on society as a whole and on its people. My aim is to reflect on all we have gained and lost for the so called greater common good.”

In 2012 VHILS used the demolition of buildings in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the football World Cup as inspiration for his work.

As a tribute to those who were uprooted, he created portraits of some of the inhabitants – a reminder that the city has a human face.

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