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Blast Away the Surface - The Urban Excavations of Vhils

Chisel in hand, Alexandre Farto (Vhils) digs fervently into a wall, breaking past layers of posters, paint and plaster. He chips further, carving deeper until a familiar image emerges of a long lost mural hidden beneath. He has just unveiled a forgotten piece of his city's history. This is his starting point of discovery.


Through destructive creation, the Portuguese artist better known as Vhils exposes the buried identity of the urban environment. His bas-relief carvings exhume the memories that city walls amass over time. What stories might they share if we scratch below the surface?

Armed with hammer and chisel, drill and explosive, Vhils takes a stand against the forces threatening cultural erosion. His art rebels against the dominant tide of globalized uniformity working to submerge local uniqueness. Through visual poetry and textured tableaus, he reflects the erosion while refusing to let heritage be easily effaced.


Early influence came from Lisbon’s intensive development in the 80s and 90s that left its visual mark through the city’s skin. Rapid urbanisation surfaced questions on the costs of modernisation that have driven his work ever since.


Vhils envisions more than superficial scars. He sees the chance to reshape an environment by addressing human emotions at their core through simplicity and meaning. His approach may seem brutal and complex, but look closer and you’ll uncover the beauty waiting to be released.

Whether collaborating with favela communities in Brazil or presenting installations in museums worldwide, Vhils confounds expectations. He chisels past assumptions to craft spaces where global and local intersect. Where contrasts dissolve into connections. Where what once seemed destruction transforms into aesthetic liberation.


Find him on:

His website

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