Blek le Rat comes to Mayfair

Stencilled street art is now a common sight on the walls of the metropolis – and many a coffee table is graced with The Big Book of Banksy et-al, and French artist Blek Le Rat is often cited as ‘the father’ of the style.

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A new exhibition opening in London this month will present a series of works by the Parisian born artist, real name Xavier Prou.

Minor Sins, 2010
Minor Sins, 2010

The show’s location – in Mayfair’s luxurious New Bond Street – is perhaps a testament to ‘street’ art’s shift from urban wastelands to the homes of the wealthy, though there’s no doubt that these white-washed gallery walls are a far cry from the Parisian walls that housed the artist’s first guerrilla creations.

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Monsieur Le Rat earned his stripes in the early 1980s. In 1981, he began stencilling rats around the buildings of Paris – helping create the name that’s also said to reference kid’s cartoon Blek Le Roc, as well as forming a clever anagram of ‘art.’

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His much-aped style has perhaps most visibly been appropriated by some guy called Banksy. On this, Blek le Rat says, in the Graffiti Wars documentary, ‘When you’re an artist you use your own techniques. It’s difficult to find a technique and style in art so when you have a style and you see someone else taking it and reproducing it, you don’t like that. I’m not sure about his integrity.’

Blek Le Rat runs from 27 April – 18 May at Opera Gallery, 134 New Bond Street, London W1

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