Blek le Rat unveils a major solo exhibition featuring new paintings and prints at Woodbury House in Mayfair
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Blek le Rat unveils a major solo exhibition featuring new paintings and prints at Woodbury House in Mayfair
‘War & Peace’ by Blek le Rat is at Woodbury House, 29 Sackville St, London W1S 3DX from 19.06.2024 to 31.07.2024.

LONDON.- Woodbury House announced the highly anticipated exhibition, 'War & Peace’ by Blek le Rat. Blek le Rat is often referred to as the ‘Father of stencil graffiti’and is the most celebrated urban artist to come out of France.

Blek le Rat's new exhibition at Woodbury House features more than 50 new paintings and prints offering an insight into Blek's relationship with conflict, which was formed by a childhood growing up in post-war France and discussion about the First and Second World Wars around the family dinner table.

“Reflecting on my life, I realise that since my childhood, I have only known wars around me. I have been a passive witness…. I was lucky not to have had to fight. I had this privilege compared to other men. Despite this, wars have left their mark on me like an obsession that renews itself.” Blek le Rat

The Woodbury House exhibition is named after Leo Tolstoy's epic novel ‘War & Peace', and reflects Blek's exploration of humanity’s dichotomous state of being, examining notions of security and instability, harmony and hostility, resilience and torment, and life and death.

Blek has drawn inspiration from centuries of conflict - from the Middle Ages to the present day - in the hope of portraying the consistent theme of futile sacrifice that underlines the human condition. A highlight of the exhibition, the ‘Stallion of Sacrifice’ series, features a Persian warrior on horseback. The signature stencil work is based on a piece the artist saw on a visit to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, and which he felt perfectly embodied the universal soldier – powerful but, ultimately, vulnerable.

For over forty years, Blek has worked in and with dynamic urban landscapes. His artistic process, which sees him navigate these changing, sometimes hostile, environments, is akin to a game of chess where every move reveals new restrictions, opportunities, and narratives.

The artist’s decades-long experience in these shifting landscapes feeds into this exploration of the unpredictability of war, and more broadly, the uncertainty of our lives. It has also influenced the creative choices made around the scale and format of the works in ‘War & Peace’, considerations which Blek says, “…were particularly important in this exhibition, as they enhance the impact of my message.

Of the exhibition, Joseph Bannan, Partner, and Curator of Woodbury House says, “Each piece in ‘War & Peace’ is a testament to Blek’s commitment to infusing life into every canvas, drawing viewers into a world where history converges with contemporary consciousness.”

Summing up his hope for the exhibition - to begin a conversation with the viewer - Blek le Rat says, “I am curious to know what ‘War & Peace’ means to you.”

Blek le Rat was born Xavier Prou in Paris in 1952, and is a pioneer of the French street art scene. One of the first known graffiti artists in France, Blek made a name for himself for his signature stencils and is credited with kicking off the stencil graffiti movement. Blek’s stencil graffiti became instantly recognisable on the streets of Paris before going worldwide and spawning 1000s of imitations.

As well as new artworks exhibited at Woodbury House, Blek has been spotted in Soho and Mayfair creating new stencil art. See if you can spot the Blek le Rat artworks at locations including Grind on Kingly Street, The Devonshire Arms on Denman Street and Maddox Street in Mayfair.

Blek has also created a limited print run of ‘Art is not Peace but War’ to coincide with the Woodbury House exhibition.

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