Blek le Rat ‘The Return Of The Rat’

Blek le Rat ‘The Return Of The Rat’
17th March 2023 until 12th April 2023
Woodbury House
29 Sackville Street

The Return of The Rat‘ is a showcase of new works created by the ‘Father of Stencil Graffiti’ – Blek le Rat. This exhibition is the highly anticipated return of the French artist to London, having not exhibited in the UK for over 10 years! The exhibition consists of thirty-six original works created this year alongside an exclusive limited edition signed print of fifty.

Blek le Rat 'The Return Of The Rat’
Blek le Rat – Rat-Records, 2023

The ‘Father of Stencil Art’ – Blek le Rat (born Xavier Prou in 1952 in Paris) was one of the very first graffiti artists in France. He is most well-known for painting stencils and is credited with starting the stencil graffiti movement. Blek le Rat began creating works dating back to 1981 and used the Paris streets as his canvas of choice.

Blek initially painted stencils of rats on the walls and describes the rat as ‘the only free animal in the city’. The name Blek le Rat originates from the comic book, Blek le Roc, which he used to read in his childhood, the ‘Rat’ being used as an anagram for ‘Art’. Blek le Rat was initially influenced by the early graffiti movement he had witnessed first-hand on his travels to New York City in 1971. He was fascinated by the colours, shapes, and expressionism.

Blek le Rat 'The Return Of The Rat’
Blek le Rat ‘The Return Of The Rat’

Blek chose a unique graffiti style, which he felt was better suited to Paris due to the differing architecture of the two cities. His first stencils were small black rats that he made run along the walls of Paris. Blek whom has credited Richard Hambleton as a large influence on his work, evolved and in 1983 began painting human-sized stencils.

He is credited with being the inventor of the life-sized stencil, as well as the first to transform stencils from basic lettering into pictorial art. Blek, who has influenced generations of street artists around the world, boasts a subtle social commitment and considers his images as a gift he gives to the city. His works often represent solitary individuals that can be encountered in the urban space – women, children, old people, and all kinds of contemporary characters.

Blek le Rat 'The Return Of The Rat’
Blek le Rat, Shadowman

He has had a great influence on today’s ‘graffiti-art’ and ‘guerrilla-art’ movements, the main motivation of his work being social consciousness and the desire to bring art to the people. Even though Blek le Rat has expressed a preference for working in the streets over galleries, he has held numerous exhibitions at key institutions throughout the world and has participated in various street art festivals.

Blek le Rat’s work has influenced and inspired many stencil artists like American artists Swoon and Logan Hicks and the world-renowned Banksy. Banksy previously stated, ‘Every time I think I’ve painted something slightly original; I find out that Blek le Rat has done it as well. Only twenty years earlier’.

Blek le Rat 'The Return Of The Rat’
Blek le Rat, The Red Leopard

Woodbury House is a private gallery located in Mayfair, London that specialises in the street art genre and in particular the works of Richard Hambleton and Blek le Rat. Woodbury House helps collectors collect with confidence.

Blek le Rat, Flower Power

They are collectors first and foremost and believe art acquisition should be an enjoyable, pleasurable experience. They believe strongly in educating, inspiring, informing, and guiding collectors every step of the way. Their dedication to spreading awareness and exposure for the artists they represent is driven by the goal of ensuring their artists’ names are rightfully cemented in art history.

The Return of The Rat’ exhibition is open to the public from 17.03.23 until 12.04.23.
Please note this exhibition is by appointment only. To make an appointment please contact: or 0203 750 2222.

©2023 Blek le Rat, Woodbury House