Blek le Rat, a Parisian-born artist, has often been called the “father” of stencilled street art. He’s been cited as a major influence on the more well known, Banksy, who’s gained a world-wide following using techniques that le Rat pioneered.
Le Rat, whose real name is Xavier Prou, started stencilling rats on buildings around Paris in 1981. He referred to the rat as “the only free animal in the city” and one which “spreads the plague everywhere, just like street art”.
If you’re like me, the work of this important artist might’ve slipped under your radar, in favor of other more well-hyped street artists. Fortunately, le Rat will have an exhibition of his work at a London gallery and more people will appreciate his influence on the street art movement. If you’re in London between April 27 and May 18, 2012, visit the Opera Gallery at 134 New Bond St.
Here’s how le Rat describes his beginnings -
.1981 to 1983 the beginning of the stencil graffiti art .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.
Check out le Rat’s website here
Thanks to Design Week
Click the image below to purchase Blek le Rat: Getting Through the Walls, a 2008 hardcover book that explores the method and meaning behind le Rat’s stencils. [affiliate ad]