“I had the idea to use stencils to make graffiti for one reason. I did not want to imitate the American graffiti that I had seen in NYC in 1971 during a journey I had done over there.I wanted to have my own style in the street… I began to spray some small rats in the streets of Paris because rats are the only wild living animals in cities and only rats will survive when the human race will have disappeared and died out.”
– Blek le Rat, from his website
Since the 1970s, street art has become an increasingly celebrated and popular form of visual expression. And while so many of us likely turn to New York when we consider the phenomenon, a multitude of cities throughout the world are home to their own incredibly diverse streetart scenes – and Paris is certainly no exception.
One of my Holga images, taken along the Seine:
Stencil art, despite feeling a bit ubiquitous at times, retains some of the distinctive qualities that likely propelled it into the mainstream. It is stark, bold, and communicates its message instantaneously – and always with a hint of urgency. Arguably fathered by the visionary Blek le Rat, it has gained popularity among many audiences, from deviant teenagers, to professional artists, to one of my dearest friends, who used it to woo a fella she’d fallen in love with (it worked – they’re getting married!).
Image by Blek le Rat:
Working actively since the early 80s, Blek le Rat’s works have both captivated and educated us – and we are able to immediately sense the influence he has had on other popular contemporary artists (Banksy, anyone?).
And it is with tremendous enthusiasm that I tell you that this Saturday, September 7th, his largest body of work to date will be presented at the Jonathan Levine Gallery here in NYC.
Read the press release here, and I’ll see you at the show!