Q&A | Alexandre Farto, aka Vhils Artist: ‘That’s what I was trying to dig and find: the essence of Macau’

Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto, aka Vhils, is back in Macau to showcase some 40 artworks at the Navy Yard No. 1 – Contemporary Art Center.

Titled “Debris – Works by Alexandre Farto aka Vhils,” the artist told the Times that 20 of his showcased works were inspired by and dedicated to Macau.

The exposition has a broader content of creation and is related to the identity of the region, reflecting the relationship between time and history and construction and demolition.

The exhibition features new billboards made from local street posters, carvings on old doors collected in the region, and a slow-motion video capture of local streets.

Vhils is also showcasing four new murals inspired by Macau in the public space.

The artist is the creator of a mural depicting poet Camilo Pessanha, which is displayed at the Portuguese Consulate.

Macau Daily Times (MDT) – This is your first solo exhibition in Macau, what new elements are you bringing to the public?

Alexandre Farto (Vhils) – Actually Macau gave me a lot [of inspiration]. A lot of the works that I do are based on things that I collect from the streets and the works for the Macau [exhibition], and all the imagery are collected from the streets. There is a lot of Macau in these new works that I have produced.

MDT – How has the culture and history of Macau contributed to this exhibition?

Vhils – There was quite a lot of some research. I did a lot walls [carving and murals] and for me the concept that I worked on is always [part of] the elements in the city, as they have layers that absorb the history of the place.

With each wall that I carve and all the layers that I exposed, they were kind of layers of time. With that, I’m playing with the layers of the walls that were built for years and years.  The portraits that I drew in the city are [inspired] by the people that pass by.  So those two elements are the ones from Macau that I wanted to connect; the carvings are part of the people that have been here.

MDT – With this exhibition and the murals installed in public places, what message do you wish to convey to the public?

Vhils – In the video, I tried to slow down everyday life in the city. With that, I’m trying to freeze some places, people and layers of history of the city to reflect on our condition, and the citizens that live in the city. Of course we are different in each part of the world. We have different layers of history, but what I’m trying to do is for us to go to the show [exhibition] and slow down the pace of our everyday life, and reflect the impact that urbanization and globalization has on us. That’s the aim of the work.

MDT – Do the works showcased here have some kind of a connection to the murals in public areas?

Vhils – I see them as part of the show. So the portraits that are presented here are inspired by Macau but also the works in the public too. They connect in a way. So for me, to see the whole show implies that people need to go and check every wall. So that, for me, is the whole show.

MDT – What is your favorite part about Macau that contributes to your inspiration as an artist?

Vhils – The contrast between the new and the old. The different vibes and also the underneath: not just the glimmering shining part of the buildings but the shadows that they cast in the city. Also, all the people that make Macau what it is.

So that’s what I was trying to dig and find: the essence of Macau. That’s what I really love, the contrast between the new and old that is very striking. Each place is unique because each has its own layers of history but for sure in Macau, you can feel that in every corner and that’s very special.

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