Born Xavier Prou in Paris in 1952, Blek le Rat is considered the godfather of stencil art.
Philosophy and Style
Blek le Rat has said: “I had the idea to use stencil 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.”
After Blek le Rat first experienced graffiti art in the subways and around the city of New York in 1971, he started creating art in Paris in 1981 with goals of social consciousness and bringing art to the people.
He cites the American artist Richard Hamilton as an influence.
When asked what artists Blek le Rat admires in a Nylon interview, he stated:
“Of course Bansky. I think he’s the only true artist on the streets in England now. I also really like American graffiti; I’m very impressed by the work of Swoon… And she’s so young! I really respect Shepard for his work. I prefer to exhibit in Shepard’s gallery rather than a museum. I think he’s the most important artist of his generation. He is important as Andy Warhol was important.”
Blek le Rat collaborates with his wife, Sybille Prou.