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. ….