Art comes in many forms, and yet every piece is unique in its own way. But, taking it to the next level is the work of Alexandre Farto, aka Vhils. The Portuguese visual artist has captivated art enthusiasts globally over the last 15 years with his unique techniques of using explosives.
Instead of decorating the streets with paint or Wheatpaste posters, Vhils prefers to subtract from the buildings themselves. Vhils has been expressing his art by using everything from scalpels and chisels to drills, jackhammers, and even explosives. He tears away at crumbling walls, which leaves realistic etched faces of locals and often marginalised people on the walls.
One of his latest reveals is called The End of the Industrial Era. It explores the dilapidated buildings of Barreiro, a massive rust-belt area in Portugal where Vhils was born and raised. To create yet another masterpiece, the artist used explosives to blow his fans away as they stared at the final piece, which revealed the face of a local person.
The image, which is based on an archived photo of a local factory worker, flashed in a split-second, quickly followed by the demolition of the entire structure it appeared on.
It only took two seconds for the artist to unveil his art. However, Vhils captured it all from multiple angles by using the lens of a ballistic camera that films at 2,000 frames per second. With this video, Vhils can immortalise his impermanent work forever. And, he is now eternalising his ephemeral art further with NFTs (that's "non-fungible token's" – like a blockchain for artwork – for those of us out-of-the-loop).
Vhils latest explosion and implosion video will be released by Nifty Gateway on 23 June. It is a digital art auction platform for non-fungible tokens that began as a partnership with Sotheby's auction house. It will include one open edition and three limited editions.
According to Vhils, the debris from the spectacle was reused too. "It was collected, laser- and hand-carved with several images that represent us all in small fragments as fossils of our life today. It is testifying the impact that all these transformations have in our suspended life as we all wait for what the future will bring us."