Vhils

Disrupting urban space with large-scale portraits of everyday heroes.

Vhils sat on a stone block with an eye carved into it amongst storage boxes in his studio
looking down on studio floor filled with various storage containers and boxes, works of art and tools
close-up of artist's hand as he uses a tool against an engraved surface
6 images

Vhils, real name Alexandre Farto, was born in 1987 on the outskirts of Lisbon, Portugal. He now splits his time between Lisbon and London, UK.

Career

He first rose to prominence in 2008 when he exhibited alongside Banksy at The Cans Festival, a one-off street art festival staged in London.

Collaborations

The artist's list of collaborators stretches from prestigious institutions like Paris' Centre Pompidou and London's Barbican Centre to communities in Cape Verde and the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.

Follow up

Love this artist’s work?
Let us know by signing up for updates, and you’ll be the first to hear about future collaborations and releases.

Practice overview

Alexandre Farto aka Vhils creates enormous mural-esque portraits that draw from his own political context, and question the relationship between the individual and the globalised world. At the heart of Vhils’ practice is destruction, creation and the city. His trademark technique uses hand and power tools to hack, scrape and carve urban surfaces that emerge into representational portraits of predominantly anonymous people that he describes as “everyday heroes.”

After exhibiting next to Bansky at The Cans Festival in 2008, which was subsequently published on the front page of The Times newspaper, Vhils has been an important name in the street art world. In addition to his acclaimed street art, over the past decade he has worked across multiple mediums that cross between sculpture, mural and installation, and exhibited at high-profile international galleries and museums. Doors, window-frames, explosives, concrete, light-boxes, metal, and brick are all used in his work to create energetic textural surfaces that echo the nonstop aliveness of urban space. From the seemingly violent acts of drilling, chiseling and blowing things up, Vhils makes work that is profoundly symbolic, and explores the impact of time on our contemporary identities.

Vhils’ solo exhibition in 2018, Annihilation, at Over The Influence in Los Angeles, centres around globalisation and the environment. Diminish Series #03 (2017), a highlight of the show, is a large panoramic cityscape of LA on a stack of billboard posters assembled as a relief on the wall. The brilliant white of the background is etched with the angular blocks and skyscrapers of the city which reveal the colourful layers of the advertising images underneath. The sides of the work expose the edges of the posters that are stiff and neatly cut to the same shape, iterating a section of the earth’s geological strata, and functioning as a fossil of the city. Symbolically, these connect economic growth with its ramifications on the environment - a potential recipe for Annihilation - and question our complicity in mass consumption and material desire.

"With my work, I try to delve into the several layers that compose the edifice of history."Vhils