Good to see pioneer stencil artist Blek le Rat on the streets of New York again last week for the first time in the US since Covid, according to his charming partner in crime, Sybille.
Of course he’s been doing it for about 50 years.
This time he’s on a bit of a whirlwind tour – first in Cleveland at Graffiti Heart with the local celebrity arts facilitator Stamy Paul and a collaborative show with NYC graff legend Taki 183. With various adoring coterie and cameras in tow, Blek hit NY in high style – putting up a brand new street stencil portrait of Richard Hambleton in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, the first gig courtesy of Wayne and Ray at LISA Project – another with TKid 170 joining on a collabo. As is part of the tour, Taki 183 was nearly everywhere Blek was, with visitors like Cope2, Mike 171, and Martha Cooper scattered about.
The main event was spread over a few days as the relatively new New York gallery vaguely named West Chelsea Contemporary dedicated nearly the entire space to the first solo show here by the French street artist whom Banksy acknowledges was in the game long before the famed Bristolian came on the scene. In a back gallery West Chelsea showcased some other related talents like Hambleton, Al Diaz (SAMO), and new-gen Phoebe.
With gallery openings on a few successive nights, it was a steady river of graffiti and street art fans, peers, collectors, merchants, and choice figures from New York’s urban cognoscenti coming by to pay respects and show Blek a New York welcome again. Next stop Austin, where the gallery has its 20+ year flagship, to host Monsieur Rat for a new exhibition—and, without doubt, a few new adventures.
Blek Le Rat exhibition at West Chelsea Contemporary is currently on view and open to the general public. Click HERE for more details.