Sunday, 27 March 2016

Gritty Street Art = Fine Art

One of the posters that Vhils carved to reveal a face
I didn't have enough of an art fix at Art Basel, and after dim sum today at Lei Garden in IFC, I headed out to the ferry pier and noticed there was an art exhibition on the roof of Pier 4, where the ferry goes to Lamma Island.

The artist is Portuguese Alexandre Farto, best known as Vhils, who splits his time between here and Lisbon. "Debris" is his first solo exhibition in Hong Kong and it was presented by Hong Kong Contemporary Art (HKCA).

Striking portraits carved from styrofoam
The roof is an interesting space, and a temporary shelter was created for the show. It's not so large that the artist feel pressure to fill the space, but also large enough to hang big pieces, even multimedia work.

Vhils is a street artist who creatively uses discarded materials to make his art, mostly carving portraits into them to reveal layers that create depth and texture.

The first few pieces are of posters that have been layered on top of each other, and he paints the top with white paint before carving faces on them. The carving reveals the previous layers in colours and designs that are completely haphazard.

Fantastic multimedia piece using stencils on screens
When an artist goes with the flow, you can tell he or she is very confident to let things happen the way they do, or is curious to see what lies beneath.

He also does this with metal, using acid to eat into it to create his designs, or carving on discarded wooden doors. When I was photographing these pieces on my smartphone, the images seemed even clearer through the frame -- much like the Space Invader exhibition which was interesting.

The concept of "carving" extends to multimedia. In one large room, there are a series of TV monitors set up with shows going on in Chinese and English, and he places stencils of faces on top.

There are other impressive pieces of portraits carved out of styrofoam, but for me the more raw the material the better.

A collection of neon signs that are better seen at night!
Vhils also shows videos of portraits that are made from walls through controlled explosions which are fascinating to see, and it would be neat to see how he did that.

Exposed outside were some neon works, but obviously these were not as effective in the daytime, but the collection he assembled were an homage to Hong Kong.

And if you're lucky to catch the right tram, Vhils has decorated the outside of one, again putting layers of posters on there and then carving faces out of them.

Art doesn't have to be perfect -- but it should be executed well, and Vhils does just that. His striking images and creative use of materials will stay with me for a while.

Nothing wasted -- discarded doors are carved
A solo exhibition by Vhils
Until April 4
Central Ferry Pier 4
From noon-9pm daily

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