Blek le Rat
Blek le Rat was one of the first graffiti artists in Paris. Blek le Rat began painting stencils of rats on walls in streets within Paris. He said that the rat is the only free animal in the city, which I very much agree with. He makes a link between rats and art, rats spreads plague everywhere, just like street art. He traveled to New York to create more paintings but he felt that his style was better suited in Paris due to the different cultures.
After he got arrested in 1991 due to his work being created in public areas, he then created exclusively with posters. Is this something that comes into my theme of vandalism? Will Banksy get arrested for his work being vandalism? Is this why Banksy’s identity is hidden? Blek le Rat’s work began as street work because he felt that this was the only way to bring his art to the public. His work is very social conscious and he desires to bring art to the people. Hence why he started out to be a street artist. His work represents social issues that have occur in the current society. He expresses these problems to bring attention to them. For example, his series of images representing the homeless.
Banksy has quoted to have said ‘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 initially disagreed with those who argue that Banksy copies his work: ‘People say he copies me, but I don’t think so. I am the old man, he’s the new kid, andf I’m an inspiration to an artist that good, I love it. I feel what he is doing in London is similar to the rock movement in the sixties’.
“When I see Banksy making a man with a child or Banksy making rats, of course I see immediately where he takes the idea. I do feel angry. When you’re an artist you use your own techniques. It’s difficult to find a technique and style in art so when you have a style and you see someone else is taking it and reproducing it, you don’t like that. I’m not sure about his integrity. Maybe he has to show his face now and show what kind of guy he is.”