Carving Away at History: Vhils Styrofoam Dissection Exhibition in Lisbon

Though vandalism is often seen as deviant behavior, Vhils seeks to use destruction as a means of progression. Alexandre Farto, AKA Vhils, seeks to strip away the layers of social inequity in his new exhibition, Dissection. On display at the Electric Museum in Lisbon are Vhils' intricate portraits made entirely from styrofoam, turning what was once a plain white block into means of social deconstruction.

     Each portrait is composed of  a series of towers at various heights across the surface of the foam, forming shadows at the precise angle in which the viewer sees the piece, each small part working to represent the full image.  Cut away to perfectly depict the profiles of the socially marginalized, rebellious and underprivileged, he meticulously cuts away at the often overlooked material to create something unimaginably complex and powerful.

    As a world renowned graffiti artist, Vhils knows that sometimes something must be destroyed in order for something else to be created. Known for using explosives and heavy machinery to chip away at walls in his artwork, Vhils is a master of unveiling a secret marvel out of something that would otherwise seem ordinary through destruction. Many of the pieces at the exhibit are made from dismantled billboards composed of layers of advertisements, propaganda and other coats of graffiti, in which he etches away at to form a portrait. In each styrofoam etching, he pays extreme attention to each cut, as each small chisel works as part of the whole to form the portrait. In this way, he pays attention to the individual among the masses; as often his work depicts the importance of the single person in the oversaturated volume of the city, the pieces function in a way in which little parts work together to highlight the importance of the person in society. Breaking away from the traditional, Vhils shreds away at materials often discarded in order to expose the importance and potential of that which is often unappreciated.

           Most of Vhils work entails some form of destruction, from tagging with graffiti to chipping away at the side a building, he wants to break apart and display the foundations that the contemporary has been built upon.