Born in 1951, Xavier Prou (better known as Blek le Rat), was one of the first graffiti artists in Paris, and is the founder of the international stencil-art movement. His first stencils were black rats, seemingly running along the walls throughout central Paris. In 1983, Blek began to produce life-size stencils that, alongside his rats, have become his trademark and influenced generations of street artists around the world. In the mid 2000s, Blek’s work evolved to become more overtly political. Following the kidnapping of French journalist Florence Aubenas in Iraq, Blek pasted hundreds of prints of her image around Paris. This body of work was a defining moment for Blek: “I became aware of my power and responsibility as an artist working in public space.” That same year, Blek began a series portraying beggars on the street, aiming to shed light on the issue of homelessness. Blek paints the same portrait of a young beggar around the world ‒ from Europe to the United States to Australia, to challenge authorities, because “sometimes images have a bigger impact than reality”.