Blek Le Rat

Blek le Rat, born Xavier Prou in Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris in 1951, was one of the first graffiti artists in Paris, and the originator of stencil graffiti art. Today his work gets mistaken for Banksy, but in true fact he is the true pioneer. In the recent documentary Graffiti Wars, Blek has said “when you have a style and you see that someone else is taking your style and reproducing it, you don’t like that”.

Even though the two have been said to have collaborated, with Banksy starting a mural in the Mission District, San Francisco and Blek seen in 2011 adding to it. Today Banksy acknowledges Blek’s influence stating “every time I think I’ve painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek Le Rat has done it as well, only twenty years earlier.”

Blek had his first solo U.K. exhibition in London at the Leonard Street Gallery in October 2006. He has since been placed back on the street art scene and finally getting the recognition he truly deserves. Cool fact: his name originates from a childhood cartoon “Blek le Roc”, using “rat” as an anagram for “art”.

“1981 to 1983 the beginning of the stencil graffiti art .I had the idea to use stencils to make graffiti for one reason. I did not want to imitate the American graffiti that I had seen in NYC in 1971 during a journey I had done over there.I wanted to have my own style in the street… I began to spray some small rats in the streets of Paris because rats are the only wild living animals in cities and only rats will survive when the human race will have disappeared and died out”

Check out his work HERE.