Blek le Rat | Escaping Paris

New York’s ‘The Quin Hotel’ has welcomed Blek le Rat as its artist in residence this fall with an exhibit titled, ‘Blek le Rat | Escaping Paris.’ Curated by DK Johnston, the exhibit features 10 large-scale original Blek le Rat paintings, as well as an edition of 25 unique multiples and lithography the artist is creating at the New York Academy of Art during his tenure. This ambitious exhibition of monotypes and lithography is the result of the artist’s collaboration with the team at NYAA. Presented through the Quin Arts program, Blek le Rat’s latest show opens with an invitation-only reception and artist salon at the Quin on October 8th and will be on display during fall 2014.

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Blek le Rat commented, “I am most honored to contribute to the inspiring artistic legacy of these two institutions—‘The Quin’, whose earlier residents include O’Keeffe and Chagall, and the New York Academy of Art, which was co-founded by Andy Warhol. I also feel very fortunate to collaborate with master printer John Jacobsmeyer in creating this collection.” DK Johnston added, “Throughout this creative tour de force now known as the ‘Escaping Paris’ exhibition, I’ve witnessed the maestro of stencil art stretch artistically and deliver on the near dormant monotype form with the elegance of his simplicity.”

Widely recognized as the ‘Father of stencil graffiti,’ and ‘the man that gave birth to Banksy,’ Xavier Prou first rose to prominence under the pseudonym, Blek le Rat, in Paris in the 1980s. The rat, a symbol of the persistent spread of street art and an anagram for the word art, is an apt marker for the influential artist. Inspired by the early graffiti of the 1970s in New York City, particularly the work of TAKI 183 and UK transplant Richard Hamilton, Prou’s iconic work rapidly spread throughout Paris and Europe. Today, Blek le Rat is celebrated globally and is credited for having paved the way for street artists such as Banksy, Shepard Fairey, and Kaws.

His principles, however, remain true to his roots. Blek le Rat has repeatedly expressed his preference for the streets over galleries, maintaining that it is the ethical and social obligation of an artist to connect with as many people as possible.

Some excellent process videos have been released and can be accessed here:

Blek creating monotype at New York Academy of Art