Blek le Rat: Examining the Social Cause Behind Street Art

Published on : A PILE OF THINGS

Xavier Prou transformed himself into the artist Blek le Rat when he began his career in the year 1981 by remodeling the city streets of Paris and ultimately creating a name for himself as the ‘Godfather’ of stencil graffiti art (King & Prou 2008). At a time when graffiti was unfamiliar to the city streets of Paris, his style reflected an innovative change in the way that the public received art. The motivation behind his work quickly became clear as his street art demonstrates his desire to bring issues of social and political consciousness to the forefront of the collectives’ perception. He drew inspiration from the early tags on the walls and trains of New York City but felt the need to break away from this dominant style and create an individual genre that would respond to the presence of his own urban surroundings (Lewisohn 2008). His desire to work in the memory of a place creates a form of unity between the history of the city and the public culture that it imposes itself upon. By illegally partaking in the construction of the cities visual culture Blek is able to engage socially with the general public and ultimately communicate his message with a wide array of onlookers.