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Foreword In 2008, Blek le Rat came to London for a talk at Tate Modern, which was then launching an immense street art exhibition. It was then that we had the chance to meet him and consider collaboration between the founding father of stencil art and Opera Gallery. Xavier Prou - aka Blek le Rat - showed enough trust and faith in us to go ahead with this collaboration and 4 years later the relationship between Opera Gallery and the Paris-based legendary street artist has never been stronger: he is shown in all 12 galleries of the group around the world and is one of Opera Gallery’s most successful artists. His position is remarkable in every area of the world where he is present: the collectors and the public know Blek le Rat’s work and they consider him as the Father of street art. Nowadays, it appears absolutely undeniable that Blek le Rat has gained the recognition he deserves after decades of unstinting devotion to the arts in the streets. We are proud to be finally bringing him back to the UK in the occasion of this exceptional exhibition.

Gilles DYAN Founder and Chairman Opera Gallery Group

Jean-David MALAT Director Opera Gallery London


04

Guido Reni revisited

Guido Reni revisited 2

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 210 x 140 cm - 82.7 x 55.1 in.

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 210 x 140 cm - 82.7 x 55.1 in.


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Street dancing

Street violonist

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 210 x 140 cm - 82.7 x 55.1 in.

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 210 x 140 cm - 82.7 x 55.1 in.


San Sebastian 08

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 210 x 140 cm - 82.7 x 55.1 in.


10

Paintball Cop

Out of weapons

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 200 x 130 cm - 78.7 x 51.2 in.

Stencil and spray paint on canvas • 92 x 73 cm - 36.2 x 28.7 in.


12

Young Afro-American from San Francisco

Young Chinese from San Francisco

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 210 x 140 cm - 82.7 x 55.1 in.

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 210 x 140 cm - 82.7 x 55.1 in.


Zorro in blue Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 210 x 140 cm - 82.7 x 55.1 in.

15


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Street art in museum

Spray can Mona Lisa

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 162 x 130 cm - 63.8 x 51.2 in.

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on concrete wall • 154 x 110 x 4 cm - 60.6 x 43.3 x 1.6 in.


Caravage revisited, Angel and butterfly 18

Stencil, spray paint and oil on canvas • 195 x 114 cm - 76.8 x 44.9 in.


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Venus de Milo revisited

Minor sins 2

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 210 x 140 cm - 82.7 x 55.1 in.

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 210 x 140 cm - 82.7 x 55.1 in.


Graffiti is a fun crime Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 200 x 140 cm - 78.7 x 55.1 in.

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Kalachnikov 24

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 140 x 210 cm - 55.1 x 82.7 in.


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Adam, the second chance

Eve, the second chance

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 210 x 140 cm - 82.7 x 55.1 in.

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 210 x 140 cm - 82.7 x 55.1 in.


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Andy

Le Sacre du Graffiti

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 200 x 140 cm - 78.7 x 55.1 in.

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 200 x 140 cm - 78.7 x 55.1 in.


Angel 30

Stencil, spray paint and acrylic on canvas • 210 x 140 cm - 82.7 x 55.1 in.


‘‘Blek le Rat’s stencils distill the essence of the human struggle into poetically concise images. Blek shows clarity in his work, he makes every stylized mark count, yielding art that is at once personal and universal, economical in gesture, and bountiful in statement.’’ Shepard Fairey

Blek le Rat, born Xavier Prou in Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris in 1951, was one of the first graffiti artists in Paris, and the originator of stencil graffiti art. He 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’’, and one which ‘‘spreads the plague everywhere, just like street art’’. 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. He also stated the influence of New York’s Richard Hambleton, who painted large-scale human figures in the 1980s. Blek is credited with being the inventor of the life-sized stencil, as well as the first to transform stencil from basic lettering into pictoral art.

Blek’s identity was revealed to French authorities in 1991 when he was arrested while stenciling a replica of Caravaggio’s Madonna and Child, with the connection to Blek and his artwork being made by police. From that point on, he has worked mainly with prestenciled posters, citing the speedier application of the medium to walls, as well as lessened punishment should he be caught in the act. He has had a great influence on today’s graffiti art and ‘‘urban 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. He has also been noted for his series of images representing the homeless, begun in 2005, which depict them standing, sitting or laying on sidewalks, in attempts to bring attention to what he views as a global problem.


134 New Bond Street • London W1S 2TF T. + 44 (0)207 491 2999 • london@operagallery.com www.operagallery.com

ebook Blek le rat  

Jean-David MALAT Director Opera Gallery London Gilles DYAN Founder and Chairman Opera Gallery Group Xavier Prou - aka Blek le Rat - showed e...

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