Artist Spotlight – Blek le Rat
In the next instalment of our Artist Spotlight series profiling some of the incredible artists featured in the forthcoming Urban Frame – Mutiny in Colour exhibition, we look at the career of the man dubbed 'The Father of Stencil Graffiti': Blek le Rat.
It’s not for nothing that French artist Xavier Prou, better known as Blek le Rat, is often referred to as the ‘Father of Stencil Grafitti’. He has played a pivotal role in popularising the artistic technique and shaping the contemporary urban art scene in France and beyond.
Emerging in the 1980s when graffiti was gaining momentum as a form of self-expression, he was inspired by the works of American street artists and the raw energy of the urban environment, going on to develop his own unique and recognisable style. Using stencils, Blek le Rat creates intricate and evocative images that are then spray-painted onto the walls of public spaces.
His pieces often focus on current socio-political issues, challenging the viewer to question the status quo and reflect on societal injustices. The iconic rat is a recurring motif in his work, symbolising the urban dweller: unseen and overlooked by society.
Blek le Rat’s impact on the street art movement is significant. His innovative use of stencils inspired a whole generation of artists, including the enigmatic Banksy, who has acknowledged Blek as an influence on his own work.