• November 4, 2003
  • Posted by Marc

Profile : blek le rat

soldier in Paris

Name: xavier Prou alias blek le rat

Age: 52 on the 15th of november

Where do you live?

about 30 miles from Paris for 10 years but i used to live in the city
of Paris until i was 41 years old.

How long have you been creating
street art?

Since 1981. At that time there was no graffiti in Paris
except political graffiti.  Also at that time it was really great to work
because the cops did not care about you when you were making graffiti art. When
they saw you they stopped their cars and asked you “what are you doing here, is
it a political message ?” when the answer was” no it’s only art” they would
leave.Now it’s another story with the cops.

src="/guests/sofuzzy/2-blek.jpg" border="0" width="400" height="400" vspace="3"
stencil on a concrete bunker in Dieppe

did you do last night?

  Same thing as with you Charles I’m also
working on canvasses and I have made twenty five of them in the two last months
and the last night i looked at them all together to get an idea of the finished

  What do you currently have in your pockets?
40 cents of euros

  How did you get started in creating art for
the street?

  The first time i saw graffiti art was in the summer of
1971 in NYC and it took me ten years to put graffiti in streets in action.In
1981 I was student in architecture at the school of Beaux- arts in Paris and I
worked as a volunteer in the suburb of Paris to look after children during the
vacation. We used to buy paint and brushes for them to paint the walls of the
house where we stored our materials and the children every day used to paint
those walls with their hands and brushes. The children gave me the idea to do
the same on the walls of Paris.At that time there was only two or three places
in Paris to find aerosol paint.Those cans were really expensive, about 20 US
dollars in 1981 for one can ,you can imagine! The first time i made graffiti I
tried to make an imitation of an American Graff the result was completly
disappointing .I did not have the style neither the technique of the american
artists .So i decided to use another technique to make graffiti : “the
stencil”.I knew that stencil was the technique used by the fascist groups during
the second world war in Italy to promote Mussolini.I remember clearly in the
early sixties having seen an almost erased portrait of Mussolini dated from the
world war two that was made with stencil on the walls of Padova in Italy during
a vacation with my parents.So the technique was found and now i had to go in the
streets of Paris to make my own graffiti which was the most difficult to do for
me. The first stencil i made was of some little rats running along the
streets.Why rats?because rats are the only free animals living in cities, they
are the last rebels of cities… I started to make figures in 1983 after having
seen Hambleton’s shadows in Paris.

  What other street artists do
you most admire and why?

  From the old school I really like Richard
Hambleton .This American artist from NYC was the first street artist to export
his work all over the world.It was really incredible to do that in the beginning
of the 80’s ! This guy put his shadows in every city in Europe and so you could
find them in Paris, London ,Roma ,Berlin etc .I never met him but i bought one
of his shadow paintings on paper in Christie’s auction in NYC in 1990.

  From the new school i sincerely like your work and your sense of art i
think you are a very promissing artist not only in graffiti but in art in
  And as everybody I also like Banksy, he makes me fun
and it’s real good to get fun sometimes.

  What’s your favorite
city, neighborhood, or block, to post and/or to see street art?

is my favourite place to see graffiti.This city holds 30 years of memories about
graffiti for me.NYC is the major city in the world for this kind of expression
of art.I also like very much Berlin in Germany because this city looks like San
Francisco in the seventies it was a a place of freedom where the people could
do what they want to do and where the authorities tried to understand and to
help the underground culture. Theres so much graffiti in that city compared to
Paris it’s incredible.I don’t know a place like that ,right now in the world
  Now I don’t like Paris anymore for graffiti because there is
too many people making graffiti. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are not
and most of them work only to get famous very quickly without having a real
direction in their work.

  What inspires you now?
  As i
told you before i’m working now on canvasses with stencils .I’m 50 years old now
and it’s time for me now to leave a work not only in the streets but also
painted on a medium other than walls.So i’m working now on every image which
took an important place in my life during my last 40 years. The images which
have punctuated my life, pictures of politics events, social events, music
events and so forth…It’s a big and a long work.

  What are you
currently working on? Can you give us a sneak peak?

  I’m currently and
always working on the memory. The individual memory ,the memory of the places
,the memory of societies and so on. For exemple i worked two years ago in the
city of Volubilis in Marocco which is a place built two thousands years ago by
the Romans and i decided to put a picture of a little faun painted on paper with
stencil in the ruins of Volubilis .The fawn was a little god visiting us during
our dreams in the greek mythology.You can see the result on my web site.This
work was incredible and i had the real impression when i did this work to reach
  Sneak peak? sorry i don’t get this expression in

le chateau
de sybille

all images taken from href="http://www.bleklerat.tk/">Blek le Rat’s site
thank you so much to
Blek for this interview… he is the Don…. respects in 3D from CUE

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