Forget Banksy: Meet Blek Le Rat, The Father Of Stencil Graffiti

Published on : FORBES

“I have a half moon and a star, this is the sign of my family,” says street artist Blek Le Rat, real name Xavier Prou, gesturing to the gold signet ring adorning his right hand. We are comparing jewelry: my band includes my initials in Arabic, while his bears the crest of his aristocratic family.

It’s an unexpectedly bourgeoisie interaction considering Prou has spent his life illegally painting walls, but then again, he has always been one to make an impression.

Long before graffiti artist Banksy set up residency on the streets of New York or spray painted rodents around London, Prou was stenciling intricate figures around the world. Painting by the Seine in the early ’80s – he has said he was the second person to make street art in Paris, after Zloty Kamien – his works have since explored the plight of the homeless, displayed the image of a missing journalist and remembered Princess Diana.

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