IS disciples call him ”the godfather” of stencil graffiti, but for 58-year-old Parisian-born Blek le Rat – who takes his name from the small black rodents he painted around Paris some 30 years ago – it’s a term of endearment rather than a title implying omnipotence.

”A British artist called Pure Evil gave me this name five years ago and it stayed,” he says. ”My gallery in Paris calls me the grandfather, but you know, I still feel very young so this one is better.”

Blek, born Xavier Prou, is in Melbourne to open a retrospective of his work at Armadale’s Metro Gallery. Yesterday, in recognition of Melbourne’s vibrant street art culture, he left his mark in Hosier Lane with a stencil of his Man Who Walks Through Walls. A collaborative mural, it also drew on the talents of local artists Ha Ha, Vexta, Drew Funk and Reko Rennie.

Blek was a 28-year-old architecture student when he began painting rats in Paris. ….