VHILS | Dissecting the City | MARK magazine#52

Throughout the past decade, Portuguese artist VHILS – born Alexandre Farto [Lisbon, 1987] – has been making a name for himself by taking apart and reassembling found objects. He uses a multitude of materials and formats to voice his stance on the city, which he bases on his experience of living and working in Shanghai 上海, Moscow, New York, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Paris. VHILS now condenses his findings in his home town Lisbon, drawing from his work to produce a collective memory of the city. MovingCities published, in the October-November 2014 issue of Mark magazine #52, an interview with Portuguese street artist: read VHILS | Dissecting the City.

Mark Magazine#52 | VHILS | MovingCities

In 2012, we first encountered the work of VHILS  around the Xiaonanmen area in Shanghai 上海 – at the time part of the Vhils Solo Show at Gallery Magda Danysz in Shanghai:

For this first exhibition in China, VHILS invests not only the gallery but also the city. He carves the walls of buildings. VHILS says “it is the ephemeral that captivates me, the transformations and developments in the city”. The exhibition emphasises the uniqueness of his work and the technical transformations he makes use of.

By then, we analysed VHILS’ intervention in the Xiaonanmen area as following:

Here, we look at the ground, at half a facade, see destruction interlocking with living rooms, the work of of Portuguese graffiti /street artist Alexandre Farto [aka VHILS] left abandoned on walls. Here, it is not about layers of accumulated architectures, of architectural history build on top of each other. Here, it is about the tension between background and foreground, about a weird coexistence, of fluidity in the building process, of washing away, cleaning up and constructing.

Extract from VHILS | Dissecting the City:

Debris is a prime material for me,’ he says. ‘I like to use material that has been expelled from the city. I think this comes from my background in graffiti, which was for many years seen as something bad. But when you use it in the right way, graffiti allows you to look at the city differently.

Farto grew up in Seixal, a city on the less glamorous south side of the Tagus estuary. At the age of 13 he was already roaming the streets, exploring warehouses and railway yards. Admitting that he ‘went through a lot of shit’ as a kid who often got into trouble, he also realizes that his formative years have had a lasting effect on him. ‘When I was growing up, Seixal was a small-scale, almost rural area,’ he says. ‘But during the golden years of the 1990s, a construction boom hit Lisbon like a bomb, and concrete sprang up all around me.

Dissection, exhibition @ Lisbon Electricity Museum

VHILS | Dissection, exhibition @ Lisbon Electricity Museum

VHILS | Dissection, exhibition @ Lisbon Electricity Museum

VHILS | Dissecting the City by Bert de Muynck
published in Mark magazine #52 | Oct-Nov14

(back to movingcities interviews page)

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