Ever since he first visited in 2012, Portuguese sculptor Alexandre Farto, aka Vhils, has felt a fondness for Shanghai, and the city forms the backdrop for many of his trademark chiseled portraits. On empty lots, construction sites, buildings slated for destruction, and out-of-the-way walls, he’s chipped away concrete and plaster to depict the faces of local residents. Vhils maintains strong ties to China, and in collaboration with the creative group Solid Dogma, he recently made a video in Shanghainese that commemorates his time in the city and pays homage to the people of who make it their home. It’s also a moody meditation on solitude and the difficulty of finding one’s place in the world.
The portraits he creates occupy entire walls, like oversized monochrome photographs, and they call to mind the larger-than-life images of celebrities or political leaders. Yet unlike billboards or propaganda posters, these images show anonymous, everyday people, and by portraying them so prominently and at such a scale, the artist gives them a certain heroic dignity. He also leaves them in the open, where, almost like human faces, they change as they age and erode.
他所创作的肖像作品往往占据整幅墙壁，就像巨幅的单色照片一样，令人联想起那些名人或政治领袖的大幅照片。但不同于广告牌或宣传海报的是，Vhils 的肖像作品都是一些无名的平凡人物，通过如此大规模的肖像画，这位艺术家让这些平民呈现出一种英雄式的威严感。Vhils 让这些画裸露在外，因而它们也像人的脸庞一样，会被岁月慢慢侵蚀，留下印记。
Many of the public artworks that Vhils created were intended to be temporary, and some fell long ago to the wrecking ball. Yet he’s created a series of portraits at a similar scale for display in a museum setting that are now on display at Danysz Gallery in Shanghai. This show, Realm, an expanded version of one previously shown at CAFA in Beijing, allows viewers in Shanghai to experience for themselves these portraits in concrete, wood, and plaster, and to see with fresh eyes the faces of the city around them.
Realm is on display until June 19, 2019, at Danysz Gallery.
256 East Beijing Road
Huangpu District, Shanghai
Monday to Saturday, 10 am ~ 6 pm
Sunday, 12 pm ~ 6 pm
Contributor: Allen Young
Chinese Translation: Olivia Li