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One of the pioneers of street art returns to the UK with a new exhibition of his trademark stencilled graffiti.

Blek le Rat (real name Xavier Prou, his pseudonym being derived from a famous French cartoon character) has been creating his work on the walls of Paris since the early 1980s, and has been a powerful influence on a new generation of street and guerrilla artists, including Banksy.Frustrated with conventional graffiti techniques, Le Rat decided to use stencils instead, an idea derived from a number of sources " a childhood trip to Italy where he saw Fascist propaganda, studying engraving as an art student, and visiting the New York subway at the dawn of the tagging phenomenon.Despite the speed of his technique, le Rat was apprehended by police in 1991, and has worked mainly on canvases and posters ever since. His choice of subject matter has varied widely over his career, but often makes use of rats, figures of homeless people and canonical works from art history.

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