While pre­par­ing for his first solo show in Hong Kong, Alexan­dre Farto speaks to Mar­got Mot­taz about his art and his mys­te­ri­ous tag name

Hong Kong Tatler - - Concierge -

nspired by the ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment, Por­tuguese artist Alexan­dre Farto, widely known as Vhils, uses cities as his can­vas. Known for large-scale por­traits carved into walls, he gained in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion when he cre­ated a work along­side a piece by Banksy at the 2008 Cans Fes­ti­val in Lon­don, which was or­gan­ised by the Bri­tish graf­fiti artist. Since then, his mu­rals have ap­peared on walls in cities around the globe, in­clud­ing Lis­bon, Lon­don, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Las Ve­gas and Shang­hai. By carv­ing out walls, drilling into con­crete or cut­ting into bill­boards, Vhils re­flects on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween places and peo­ple. The artist, who re­cently es­tab­lished a stu­dio in Hong Kong, will be tak­ing the city by storm this month. The She­ung Wan restau­rant Bibo will be host­ing a se­ries of ex­clu­sive din­ners from March 16 to show­case some of Vhils’ lat­est works. His most am­bi­tious pro­ject yet, De­bris, a city-wide ex­hi­bi­tion de­vel­oped with the Hong Kong Con­tem­po­rary Art Foun­da­tion, in­cludes a show­case of work atop Pier 4 and the cus­tomi­sa­tion of a tram. It runs from March 21 un­til April 4. hoca.org Where does the name Vhils come from? I started as a graf­fiti writer, paint­ing on the streets. It was just the ty­pog­ra­phy, the let­ters, that I liked most and the fastest that I could do in one go. And I was lucky enough that it doesn’t re­ally mean any­thing in any lan­guage.

Do you still prac­tise graf­fiti art? Yes. It’s my back­ground; it’s my school. Graf­fiti gave me a lot in terms of per­se­ver­ance and cre­ativ­ity.

What do you do when you’re not cre­at­ing? It’s just that ev­ery­thing you do, walk by or see is part of the process be­cause you never re­ally turn off your head, your of­fice. I love to read, I love to travel, but it’s dif­fi­cult to say what I do for leisure or for work.

What’s your fas­ci­na­tion with Hong Kong? It’s the chaotic en­ergy of the city that gives po­etry to my work. It’s like my colour pal­ette. Why the fo­cus on eyes for your mu­ral at Bibo? To be hon­est, it was quite nat­u­ral. Eyes have a lot of mean­ing; they are the win­dows to the soul. I guess I was try­ing to give a soul to the wall, to hu­man­ise it by ex­pos­ing its lay­ers.

What hap­pens when you make a mis­take? I in­cor­po­rate the mis­takes, which are in fact not mis­takes. It’s just the wall dic­tat­ing a lit­tle bit of what you cre­ate. It’s like a dance with the wall, with the ma­te­ri­als, with the lay­ers. I don’t con­trol ev­ery as­pect of what I do.

If you could col­lab­o­rate on a pro­ject with any­one, dead or alive, who would it be? The late Amer­i­can artist Gor­don Matta-clark. He’s an artist I re­ally re­spect. I think he was one of the first artists to ap­proach the pub­lic space and re­flect on our build­ings’ ar­chi­tec­ture, on how you can ac­tu­ally use it as a medium to cre­ate art.

Street cred Por­tuguese artist Vhils ex­e­cutes his work on a wide range of sur­faces, in­clud­ing walls, bill­boards and doors

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