Blek le Rat (real name: Xavier Prou) was born in 1951 in Boulogne-Billancourt, France. He is regarded as the forefather of stencil art (street art) in public space. Although punks had already used this technique to spread their graffiti before him. The pseudonym is based on the French comic character “Blek le Roc”.
He studied graphic art and then architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1971 to 1983. Blek le Rat first began together with his friend Gérard Dumas as the artist duo BLEK. In October 1981, they first tried to spray a freehand piece, but in his eyes this failed completely. After that he works with the stencil technique, which he has seen before. His first motifs were small-format works such as rats, tanks and bananas. At the end of 1983 the duo BLEK separated and Xavier Prou adopted the name BLEK LE RAT.
Also in 1983, he sprayed his first large-format stencil. It shows an old man from Northern Ireland scolding British soldiers in an umbrella cap. He was using a photograph from the French newspaper “Libération” as motif. Many other large-format works followed. From 1983, other pochoirists followed his example. The École de Blek le Rat postulated by the French newspaper “Le Monde” in 1987 included the pochoirists Jérome Mesnager, Marie Rouffet and many more.
In addition to his hometown of Paris, he has worked in cities such as Berlin, Cologne, Leipzig, Wiesbaden, London, New York, San Francisco, Florence, Naples, Lisbon, Buenos Aires, Marrakesh and Munich.