Blek le Rat, born Xavier Prou in Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris was one of the first graffiti artists in Paris, and has been described as the ‘Father of Stencil Graffiti’. Blek le Rat began his artwork in 1981, painting stencils of rats on the street walls of Paris, describing the rat as ‘the only free animal in the city’ however his name originates from a childhood cartoon ‘Blek le Roc’, using ‘rat’ as an anagram for ‘art’.
Initially influenced by the early graffiti art of New York City after a visit in 1971, he chose a style which he felt better suited Paris, due to the differing architecture of the two cities. Blek's identity was revealed to French authorities in 1991 when he was arrested while stencilling a replica of Caravaggio's Madonna and Child, with the connection to Blek le Rat and his artwork being made by police.
Blek le Rat has had a great influence on today's graffiti art and ‘guerrilla art’ movements, the main motivation of his work being social consciousness and the desire to bring art to the people. Many of his pieces are pictorials of solitary individuals in opposition to larger, oppressive groups. Blek le Rat has also been noted for his series of images representing the homeless, begun in 2006, which depict them standing, sitting or laying on sidewalks, in attempts to bring attention to what he views as a global problem.
Hugely influential to the present generation of street artists such as Banksy, D*Face and Faile, Blek le Rat’s work bridges the gap between underground street art and the mainstream art world. 2010 saw sell-out shows of his work in London and Los Angeles, which occasioned lengthy colour supplement features on him in both The Sunday Times and The Independent.
Buy signed limited edition prints by Blek le Rat at Opus Fine Art; the home of Contemporary art.