Blek Le Rat, 'Father of the Street Stencil,' Thinking of L.A.
By Ed Fuentes | on January 16, 2014
Stencil street art is strategic in its placement and monochromatic imagery, allowing graphic arts to become guerilla responses to environmental and social conditions in one swift glance. The urban art form can be found in all major cities, but it thrives in Los Angeles. It didn't have to evolve much from its original source, Blek le rat, the French artist who began stenciling on Parisian walls in the 1970s and 1980s. With the growth of stenciled art in Los Angeles, not to mention around the world, it's important to consider why he's called the "Father of Stencil Graffiti."
Or, at least, to know that he came before Banksy (and a case ccould be made that Banksy directly lifted style and execution of Blek le rat).
Blek Le Rat's first repeated image was rodents roaming walls. "The rat is a rebel, the sole wild animal in the city," he said about his moniker in the L.A. Times in 2008. "They're smart, and they know exactly how to get around. There's another reason I like them: The word 'rat' is an anagram for 'art.'"
Blek le Rat visited New York during its more rebellious time, and returned to France. Not wanting to imitate that city's artists, he chose the stencil as his new form of unauthorized contemporary urban art. Writing on the Wall touched based with the artist to discuss his works and why he has L.A. on his mind.
Writing on the Wall: You say your life is shaped by the way culture was formed by different centuries. How does your work fall into the idea that culture is destiny?
Blek le rat: I wanted to say everyone culture is part of it's destiny.