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Street art by Vhils: Revealing history and humanity with chisels and drills

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Chiseling, drilling, scratching, revealing: Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto, aka Vhils, transforms city walls by chipping away layers of concrete and brick buildings, wooden doors, billboard paper, etched metal, and other surfaces. The street art that he createsβ€”large-scale, detailed facesβ€”reclaim public spaces for the communities that live there. In the Hypebeast studio visit above, Vhils explains:

“The wall that you pass every day and you don’t really care, and then suddenly you just break up a little bit, and then it’s something else, and people relate to it in a different way. You will humanize that place but you also tell a story about that place.”

vhils street art in lisbon
Vhils’ work is inspired by the revolutionary political street art he saw in Lisbon, Portugal during his childhood, and the layers of advertising and renovation that covered it since. He uses those materials in the environmentβ€”the unique record of that locationβ€”to create his bas-relief carvings. From

“Vhils grew up in Seixal, an industrialised suburb across the river from Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, and was deeply influenced by the transformations brought on by the intensive urban development the country underwent in the 1980s and 1990s. He was particularly inspired by the way city walls absorb the social and historical changes that take place around them.”


“Applying his original methods of creative destruction, Vhils digs into the surface layers of our material culture like a contemporary urban archaeologist, exposing what lies beyond the superficiality of things, making visible the invisible and restoring meaning and beauty to the discarded dimensions buried beneath.”

ripping posters in the studio
Follow Vhils on Instagram, Facebook, and Plus, explore a map of his work in Lisbon and beyond.

Watch these related street art videos next:
β€’ JR’s A Walker in New York City, an installation time lapse
β€’ The intricate, temporary chalk animals of Philippe Baudelocque
β€’ β€˜Around the Block’ with street artist David Zinn
β€’Β Jim Bachor’s Pandemic Pothole Mosaics

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