Interview with Urban Artist Alexandre Farto aka Vhils

Urban artist Alexandre Farto, famously known by his tag name Vhils, is showcasing a series of work from now until 5th January at Over the Influence gallery in Central. Renowned for his destructed mural art, this show features a mixed of eclectic portraits, ranging from hand-crafted Styrofoam cityscapes to acid-etched metal plates.

Tell us about yourself.

Hi! My name is Alex Vhils. I’m doing this show called ‘REMAINS’. It’s a body of work inspired by my stay in Hong Kong during these 2 years.

Tell us about these Styrofoam sculptures.

These hand-crafted Styrofoam sculptures show parts of a portrait.  If you look at them sideways you can see skyscrapers and buildings inspired by the concrete jungle in Hong Kong. This small piece here gives you a better look at the structure of it.

Walk me through this body of work.

We have here some city scenes carved on street posters. I usually do portraits. This is the first time I produce landscape city life for the content. They are based on images from cross roads in Hong Kong. They look very abstract from up close but if you step back, you can see the whole picture. These 3 are fragments from the images I documented around the city.

Are the faces in your work usually people you met or are they imaginary?

I went through an interview with different people to grab the essence of the city. It’s a mixed between people I met, some of them are reflections of the city.

What’s the process of creating these amazing poster portraits?

We collect posters from the street. We specifically pick the ones with layers of posters. Then I paint them white, cut out bits and expose layers from behind to create the images. It’s an act of destruction that creates, a metaphor, every creation of a human implied destruction. Everything you create, every solution of a problem creates another thousand problems. The sustainability of the world today is a big issue for me. That’s why I create work that reflects the problem of the society.


Is this how you started the creation of these masterpieces?

At first, I used billboards. Then I moved on to drilling on cement walls. I also used explosives. I experimented with these acid-etched metal plates. You can only see them from a certain angle when light hits. I painted with metal protector and left it out for corrosion. It’s an interaction with the city and nature. The environment creates the art itself.

These are some old doors I collected. The portraits are carved onto it to expose and release the stories underneath those doors. The layers of paint on wood shows the impact of all these changes the city has gone through and it implies on us too.

We have here some acid paintings. I painted a layer of black ink and burnt out details with acid. It’s the same concept with the previous work. These paintings take 3-4 weeks to create.