Yesterday, Portuguese street artist Alexandre Farto debuted his six-meter high Cork Faktory Diorama sculpture at the first day of Portugal’s International Street Theatre Festival Imaginarius in Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal.
Farto, whose street name is Vhils, explores lower income areas in cities like Shanghai, Paris, London, Sydney, and San Juan (Puerto Rico), to meet the people who live there and involve them in his art.
In each city he talks to people about their everyday lives, takes their picture and then enlarges their image using old billboard advertisements as a stencil. Farto uses an electric jackhammer to chisel the portraits into deteriorating walls of brick or cement in industrial areas. Farto says,
All this ephemeral nature that can be observed in the street says a lot about the state of people and their way of living in a given moment of time.
Farto grew up in Seixal, Portugal. This industrial suburb lies on the other side of the river bordering Lisbon. At the end of the twentieth century, Lisbon’s suburbs stretched into the surrounding countryside and urban development took over, which inspired Farto to pick up graffiti. Farto studied Fine Arts in London at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and continues to prolifically experiment with different mediums by making use of what people discard in informal settlements.
Farto’s latest piece Cork Faktory Diorama, a large sculpture portrait in cork material, reflects on a space once occupied up by a factory that had ties to the cork industry. Similar to French street artist JR, Farto spotlights ordinary people to define the condition of the area the art is exhibited in.