It’s worth exploring the old European Quarter in Bangkok on foot as you will never know what you will discover. Take this street art that I came across on the wall of the Embassy of Portugal as an example. It was made by renowned artist Alexandre “Vhils” Farto for his artwork project “Scratching the Surface”. I didn’t notice it at first as I walked up the street. But when I crossed to the other side and looked straight at it, I was presented with an amazing image.
Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto has been interacting visually with the urban environment under the name of Vhils since his days as a prolific graffiti writer in the early 2000s. His groundbreaking carving technique has been hailed as one of the most compelling approaches to art created in the streets in the last decade.
This striking form of visual poetry, showcased around the world in both indoor and outdoor settings, has been described as brutal and complex, yet imbued with a simplicity that speaks to the core of human emotions. An ongoing reflection on identity, on life in contemporary urban societies and their saturated environments, it explores themes such as the struggle between the aspirations of the individual and the demands of everyday life, or the erosion of cultural uniqueness in the face of the dominant model of globalised development and the increasingly uniform reality it has been imposing around the world.
Applying his original methods of creative destruction, Vhils digs into the surface layers of our material culture like a contemporary urban archaeologist, exposing what lies beyond the superficiality of things, restoring meaning and beauty to the discarded dimensions buried beneath.
His unique approach and artwork have been garnering critical acclaim around the world. Vhils has recently received in Lisbon the personality of the year award by the Foreign Press Association in Portugal, for taking the “name of the country to abroad,” in 2015.
Map for the Embassy of Portugal in Bangkok
The Embassy of Portugal is on Charoen Krung Soi 30, in the heart of the old European Quarter. The Embassy is alongside the river and sits on land granted to Portugal by King Rama II in 1820.