Vhils Uses Explosives to Blast a Brilliant Portrait Onto a Building

Explosive Street Art by Vhils

Street art comes in many forms, but none are nearly as explosive as the work of Alexandre Farto, aka Vhils. The Portuguese visual artist has captivated art enthusiasts around the world over the last 15 years with his unique techniques. Instead of adding paint or Wheatpaste posters to urban edifices, Vhils opts to subtract from the buildings themselves. For years, he’s been using everything from scalpels and chisels to drills, jackhammers, and even explosives to tear away at crumbling walls, revealing realistically etched faces of locals and often marginalized people.

His latest project, called The End of the Industrial Era, explores the dilapidated buildings of Barreiro, a massive rust-belt area in Portugal where Vhils was born and raised. Once again, the artist uses explosives to instantaneously reveal the face of a local person. The image, which is based on an archived photo of a local factory worker, flashes in a split-second, quickly followed by the demolition of the entire structure it appears on.

This whole unveiling and undoing took place within about two seconds, but Vhils was able to capture it all from multiple angles with the use of a lens of a ballistic camera that films at 2,000 frames per second. Through video, Vhils is able to immortalize his impermanent work. And now he’s eternalizing his ephemeral art further with NFTs. The explosion and implosion video will be released by Nifty Gateway—a digital art auction platform for non-fungible tokens that began a partnership with the auction house Sotheby’s—on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. It will include one open edition and three limited editions.

In addition to the Rust Belt video, there were be several Detritus NFTs featuring stone fragments from the explosion. The debris from the spectacle were “collected, laser and hand carved with several images that represent us all in small fragments as fossils of our life today, testifying the impact that all these transformations have in our suspended life as we all wait for what the future will bring us.” This sale will also include a physical piece given for free.

Keep an eye on Nifty Gateway on June 23 for Vhils’ explosive NFTs. Want to hear more from this incredible artist? Listen to our exclusive chat with Vhils on My Modern Met's Top Artist Podcast.

World-renowned street artist Vhils used demolition explosives to turn an old building into an ephemeral work of art.

The End of the Industrial Era Explosion Art by Vhils

“The End of the Industrial Era” (Explosion)

Once his desired image of a local factory worker was blasted onto the façade, it was almost immediately demolished.

Implosion Art by Vhils

“The End of the Industrial Era” (Implosion)

Now, both the video of the explosion/implosion and digitized chunks of debris from the wreckage are being auctioned off as NFTs.

Detritus by Vhils

Detritus #1

Detritus by Vhils

Detritus #4

Detritus by Vhils

Detritus #8

Watch the explosion and implosion in slow motion:

Vhils: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Nifty Gateway: Website | Instagram | Twitter

My Modern Met granted permission to feature media by Vhils.

Related Articles:

Street Artist Vhils on His Iconic Art Style and Creative Process [Podcast]

Vhils Pays Tribute to Healthcare Workers by Chiseling Portraits Into Hospital Wall

Vhils’ Giant Chiseled Street Art Gets Two Simultaneous Gallery Exhibitions in Paris

One Artist Is Carving Walls Around the World to Turn Them Into Portraits of Locals [Interview]


Pinar Noorata is the Managing Editor at My Modern Met. She is a writer, editor, and content creator based in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her BA in Film and Media Studies from CUNY Hunter College and is an alumni of the Center for Arts Education’s Career Development Program in NYC. She has worked at major TV, film, and publishing companies as well as other independent media businesses. When she isn’t writing, editing, or creating videos herself, Pinar enjoys watching movies, reading, crafting, drawing, and volunteering at her local animal shelter.
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