Vhils Work with Explosives
First explored to further emphasize his destructive approach to creation, Vhils' work with explosives should be seen as a natural progression from his original bas-relief carving technique used on walls. According to Vhils, walls retain within their layers something of the history and essence of the city which can be symbolically exposed when he carves through them. By employing explosive charges to reveal these portraits and compositions, Vhils takes this concept to its logical conclusion.
This original technique was first employed in 2010 for the Detritos (Detritus) series of art videos as a visual metaphor for the social and economic volatility brought on by the 2008 global financial crisis and especially today in the covid era of 2020. As such, both this and the subsequent series speak of how, at times of turmoil, the veneer of civilization we take for granted can easily explode and bring forth previously tamed expressions of intolerance, extremism, and violence that simmer beneath the surface.
As the entire process is not only eruptive but also fast and dramatic, its result can only be truly appreciated on video. Most of these have been shot using a high-speed digital camera which enables the artist to capture the moment at a very low speed that seems to almost freeze the flying debris, creating a slow-motion poetic intensity conducive to reflection.