The celebrated urban artist explores layers of meaning in a unique, global art experience
Hennessy, the world’s best-selling Cognac, is proud to announce its collaboration with urban artist Alexandre Farto – aka “Vhils” – for the 2018 Very Special Limited Edition bottle. Rooted in the artist’s motto of “Making the Invisible Visible,” the custom-designed bottle opens an exciting new page in Hennessy’s longstanding tradition of artistic partnerships. The bottle is the eighth in an ongoing series of innovative collaborations between Hennessy V.S and several internationally renowned artists and will be available across the U.S. starting in July.
On the surface, Vhils is a graffiti writer turned art world phenomenon, but he is much more than that: Vhils is sui generis: innovative, visionary, in a class by himself. Distinguished as the great disrupter of his generation, Vhils is often described as an “urban archaeologist” who gleans inspiration from growing up in the fast-changing capital of post-revolutionary Portugal. Having established his signature on city walls, Vhils quickly moved on to pioneer a new form of urban expressionism through monumental portraits cut, composed, chiseled or exploded from built-up layers of paint or paper, stone, wood, steel or concrete and infused with the color and energy of the hip-hop music scene.
For Hennessy, Vhils’ approach to his art is a fitting metaphor for the art of Cognac-making: both rely on the unpredictable, immutable force of time and elements. For each, the creative process is a poetic quest to make the invisible visible. “When I discovered the story behind Hennessy, I realized that this collaboration was a perfect fit with my art and ideals. I’ve been pushing the boundaries for 10 years, but then I realized that Hennessy’s been doing it for more than 250!” Vhils explained. “Whether it’s about exposing the nature of a city or blending a perfect Cognac, for both of us, the essential element is time. You have to wait for it, let it do its job, and then work with the layers time has shaped. There’s no speeding up the process and there’s always an element of risk-taking.”
As the guest artist for Hennessy Very Special Limited Edition 2018, Vhils selected hallmarks from the Hennessy archives, such as the Three Star emblem, and reproduced Cognac’s amber hues through experimentation with paper, heat and acid.
To celebrate this collaboration, Vhils will embark on a worldwide tour with Hennessy to reveal the new V.S Limited Edition bottle and create immersive new art experiences. Selected stops in this global project, including New York and Chicago, will be the stage for revealing new, site-specific Vhils works that reflect the spirit of Hennessy and the art of making the invisible visible.
From the French region of Cognac and throughout its 250-year history, Hennessy has proudly perpetuated an exceptional heritage based on adventure, discovery and cultivating the best that nature and man can offer. Hennessy’s longevity and success across five continents reflect the values the Maison has upheld since its creation: the transmission of a unique savoir-faire, the constant (con)quest for innovation, and an unwavering commitment to Creation, Excellence, Legacy, and Sustainable Development. Today, these qualities are the hallmark of a House – a crown jewel in the LVMH Group – that crafts some of the most iconic, prestigious Cognacs in the world.
Hennessy is imported and distributed in the U.S. by Moët Hennessy USA. Hennessy distills, ages and blends spanning a full range: Hennessy V.S, Privilege V.S.O.P, Hennessy Black, X.O, Privé, Paradis, Paradis Imperial and Richard Hennessy. For more information and where to purchase/ engrave, please visit Hennessy.com.
Born in Lisbon in 1987, Alexandre Farto is an astute observer of urban environments who began experimenting with graffiti as an adolescent, adopting the name “Vhils” because the streamlined letters let him work fast enough to stay one step ahead of the local authorities. The signature was instantly recognizable; the name stuck. Within a few years, he had moved away from graffiti and into more complex, large-scale urban expressionism.
Vhils attended the Byam Shaw School of Art in London and won international acclaim at age 21, when his work appeared alongside that of the street artist Banksy at the Cans Festival in London (2008). An avid experimentalist, he continually pushes the boundaries of visual expression. Vhils’ “aesthetics of vandalism” spans many mediums, from stencil painting and wall carvings to corrosive acids, pyrotechnic explosions, 3D modeling and installations. Music is another essential facet of Vhils’ work; in addition to directing music videos and he is the organizer of the Imminente music festival. Over the past decade or so, the artist’s monumental reliefs, mosaics, sculptures and projections have brought new layers of context to his hometown and embellished cityscapes in dynamic, far-flung cultural capitals such as Shanghai and Dubai. While he calls Lisbon home, Vhils lives and works all over the world.