00 feature image of “Imprint”

On the afternoon of June 30, 2017, the “Imprint – Works by Alexandre Farto aka Vhils” was launched in the CAFA Art Museum. The exhibition was co-presented by the CAFA Art Museum, the Department of Mural Painting at CAFA, the Embassy of Portugal in China and Vhils Studio.

Portuguese visual artist Vhils (originally named Alexandre Farto) was engaged in graffiti during the early years, and an idea came to Vhils when he was sixteen, as it was thought that graffiti was supposed to add things on walls, he thought whether it would be possible to subtract things on walls? And in his later practices, Vhils began to use the bas-relief wall carving technique to make a visual narrative creation, and he pioneered a carving technology that has become known as one of the most attractive expressions of street creation in the past decade. At the same time, he has retained more than sixty large street paintings in more than 30 countries around the world, and he is an iconic figure in the field of visual arts.

At the opening ceremony, Ambassador Jorge Torres-Pereira of the Embassy of Portugal in China said that, Vhils has long been concerned with contemporary urban society and the complexity of a modern metropolis, and has gradually developed an artistic expression to present the human status. Pereira said that, “Inspired by the urban cultural landscape, some unknown citizens’ portraits are carved in brick walls and onto wooden boards, so that art is blended into the city, in order to explore the essence of the modern urban environment.”

The exhibition includes 70 works of installation and a wall in the CAFA Art Museum. These works took three weeks to complete and the majority was completed in Beijing. The main contents were based on life status, images and facial expressions of the streets in Beijing. Vahils had an explanation and said that, “In the process of the creation, I copied images, and the pictures present both the dark and light grays as well as the bright highlights. I drew the highlights with paint, while the dark ones were finished by carving with different tools.” At the same time, the main exhibition hall is cleverly set to be a maze-like scene, so that the audience strolls in between a few walls, observing the different angles of the works from different locations, like the pedestrians hurriedly walking in the city. Perhaps the audience can “re-find the perspective to inspect the city.”

In the entrance to the exhibition, it presents the “Scratching the Surface” series by Vhils, and the artist believes that this part can be considered as a small summary of his previous creation, and the world map shows his traces of creations in many cities. In addition, in the exhibition site places two videos of “Explosives”, where the artist used explosives to leave traces of portraits, and the focus of the explosion is “the intense moment presented by the explosion”, while the result of the explosion is not the content the artist wanted to express, so the use of video to record this process is the best choice.

Prof. Su Xinping, President of CAFA addressed the opening ceremony and said that, Alexandre Farto was a young artist, who has been prestigious in the field of street paintings. Vahils starts from the reality of the location of Beijing, and “Imprint” tries to rethink the real state of mankind behind the modern urban ecology that appears to be sunny in this current era, through the artist’s anthropomorphic approach to urban landscapes. Therefore, the “Imprint” is thus both an analytical look at the characteristics of contemporary urban life and a poetic gesture highlighting the identity transformation at the heart of this new chapter in human development.

Text by Lin Jiaxin, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO
Photo by Yang Yanyuan/CAFA ART INFO

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