Opening late November 2012, Lazarides Rathbone is proud to present the most comprehensive solo show to date from the artist Vhils: Devoid. In contrast to his previous solo exhibitions, the artist’s latest body of work will focus on the individual in relation to the overpowering force of urban environments and to the dominant noise created by the cities’ unidirectional line of communication. Devoidwill culminate a series of projects executed in 2012 in Shanghai, Paris, the favelas of Rio and Lisbon.
Vhils has been exploring the complexities of the relationship between the individual, the urban environment and the ideological framework that sustains it since first taking up graffiti in the streets of his native Lisbon and has since gained huge international acclaim. Like other graffiti artists, Vhils learnt how to “read” the city, how to navigate its main thoroughfares and back streets, assessing the potential to strike and leave a mark. Yet, he soon realised the proposition contained in the urbanised space of the city extended beyond its physical territory, comprehending a vast cultural domain with ideological edifices rooted in the media, advertising, the designs of consumerism and the projection of public space.
Working with the city as the prime material, Vhils has used the urban environment and what it offers in its most derelict spaces as both a location and as a source for materials. By highlighting the poetic value of decay, he explores the ephemeral nature that underlies all things, but also questions the necessity of catalysing change based on the practice of development for the sake of development, regardless of the social, cultural and historical heritage razed in its wake.
“This ephemeral character that interests me in my work is the transience I witnessed while growing up, in the street, in the transformation and development, in all the changes: Nothing Lasts Forever…the contrast between the glamour of the new and the decadence of the old. All this ephemeral nature that can be observed in the street says a lot about the state of people and their way of living in a given moment of time.” Vhils