Artist Feature: Alexandre Farto aka VHILS

Editor Shenyah Webb, Art, December 17th, 2015

Street art that is literally explosive.


Eradication as a form of construction: etching, chiseling, drilling, using acids and explosives. These are just some of the methods utilized by Alexandre Farto (aka VHILS) to create his powerful street relief portraits. Additionally, he dissects ads and excavates billboards, stripping away the layers to reveal lives before, pushing boundaries and showing a new face to the world’s street art community. “That was a method for bringing the past to the present, to think about the future, somehow. You could actually call it archaeology, a different kind of archaeology.”

Making my way through the dozens of photos of his relief portraits, I couldn’t help but wonder whose eyes were staring back at me. Political Figures? Heroes? With their stoic presence, I was surprised to learn they were mostly ordinary people photographed by the artist himself. The common citizen transformed into iconic figures through the raw passion of demolition. How beautiful is that?

From the Artist:

This striking form of visual poetry, showcased around the world in both indoor and outdoor settings, has been described as brutal and complex, yet imbued with a simplicity that speaks to the core of human emotions, expressing the struggle between the aspirations of the individual and the demanding, saturated environment of the urban spaces we live in, highlighting and exposing the somber dimension that lies behind the current model of development and the material aspirations it encompasses – unsustainable, yet inebriating.

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Alexandre Farto, aka VHILS

VHILS @ The Rocks, Sydney

Alexandre Farto, aka VHILS, was born in 1987 in Portugal and grew up on the outskirts of Lisbon. He studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London. VHILS has been creating street art since age 10, when he began tagging, becoming obsessed with train-bombing Lisbon’s suburban line. By the late 2000’s VHILS portraiture was found throughout the walls of Europe. His unique approach and artwork have been garnering critical acclaim around the world. He currently lives and works in London and Lisbon.


Shenyah Webb

Shenyah Webb is a Portland-based visual artist and musician. She has been with NAILED Magazine since its inception in 2012 and has served as the Arts Editor and a Contributing Editor since its launch in 2013. A Detroit native, she attended The College for Creative Studies, where she focused on Fine Art and Industrial Design. She is currently enrolled in a Somatic Expressive Arts Education and Therapy training program, studying under Lanie Bergin. You can learn more about Shenyah here. (