Street artist Vhils in Vietnam
An avid fan of Vhils, the world-renowned Portuguese street artist, I love to look in detail at his incredible works. By chance is on my street, in Saigon – Vietnam, a wall made by Vhils in September 2018.
Inspired artist, Vhils pays tribute to the people who impress him
It was during his first visit to Vietnam that the artist engraved this portrait of a local star, as he likes to do during his travels.
An inspired artist, Vhils, whose real name is Alexandro Farto, has the particularity of paying tribute to the people who impress him in the countries he visits.
The artist has created more than 200 portraits around the world, honouring individuals from different worlds, all of whom he considers worthy.
In doing so, the artist establishes a virtuous system: he meets people he admires and enhances them by engraving them in the walls of their countries. This strengthens their image as well as the support of the local community. For his part, Vhils leaves a lasting impression of his work in the country. DRIP’IN is inspired by this virtuous circle, simple and effective.
In a few years, he has become one of the most prominent artists, his portraits and his closeness to communities around the world being highly appreciated.
A special way of working
However, this is not the only personality trait that describes the artist. Vhils uses a singular technique for his portraits that contributes to his reputation.
Indeed, the artist is rather far from the brush: his palette consists of explosives, hammers, drills, chisels and other chisels. These are the tools needed to extract the different layers of the wall and thus reveal the different tones of the materials.
The portraits are therefore all different depending on the walls worked on, the way and the materials with which they were built. It is this point that he particularly appreciates, the unknown of the result.
Construction through destruction
Vhils practices construction by destruction, which makes his art so special and appreciated by a growing number of amateurs. His talent lies in this mastery of gestures and results, whose apparent brutality is replaced by an elegant finesse. You have to see him tapping, shredding, smashing the successive layers of the walls, it is violent and noisy. It’s only when the blows fade that you realise the full extent of the work done. From this fury of dust and noise emerges a soft, expressive and poetic face. Impressive, really.
The artist explains that he considers “Man as a stack of layers of his history, a bit like layers of sediment. Social and cultural layers have been added to arrive at the thickness symbolised by the wall.
The artist believes that by removing the outer layers it is possible to get a more accurate, unvarnished view of man. So Vhils digs into the walls in search of this purified form of the spirit. The people engraved in the stone represent for him examples to follow, whatever their path, their difficulties, their environment. All these obstacles that these people overcome with strength for a positive and inspiring result.
The portrait taken in Vietnam shows Karik, a charismatic local rap star. Karik is probably the first rapper to have succeeded in popularising this movement in a country that judged him harshly. Rejected by his family and many people in his early days, Karik has fought tirelessly to demonstrate, convince, and bring rap to the masses. His journey inspired Vhils, hence this portrait in his honour.
This piece, made on the wall of a bar in Saigon’s district 2, is directly accessible to all, which makes it a little treasure.
Indeed, it is possible to scrutinize it in its slightest details, to feel the depths of the perforations and the asperities of the concrete under one’s fingers.
It is a chance to admire the artist’s work up close and to better understand his way of working.
Vhils is one of today’s hottest artists
Vhils is undoubtedly one of the most impactful street artists today. Since 2015 and being named by Forbes as one of the 30 most influential artists under 30 on the planet, Vhils has carved many walls with equal force.
He lives between Lisbon and London, where he is represented by art dealer Steve Lazarides, the man who revealed Banksy.