French 'Banksy' Trumps Terror

Paris -- A poignant cartoon response to the terror attacks, penned by famous French illustrator Lucille Clerc, went viral on the web this week. The artwork, which depicted a regenerating snapped pencil, was erroneously attributed to Banksy.

Now, the true French counterpart of Banksy has created his own work in response to the horrific terror attack on the country.

Art collectors of ArtKabinett social media network are familiar with these beautiful creations which have adorned the streets of Paris for over three decades.

The street artist, Blek le Rat, the pioneering artist whose style was largely appropriated by the British street artist and who is almost as famous in France as Banksy is in the U.K., has created his own work of condemnation, shown here, against the terrorist attack by masked gunman which claimed the lives of 12 at the satirical newspaper and left five more seriously injured at that location.

Blek le Rat, age 63, dubbed “Banquesy” by the British press, told The Telegraph that he was rendered speechless by “the cold-blooded determination of a crazy minority” who conducted the violence.

Speaking to The Independent, Le Rat urged his fellow nationals to keep in mind that those responsible “are just a tiny minority”, adding: “It makes me think of the Muslim families in France who must feel horror and fear that this incident will spread further hate.”

Le Rat -- real name, Xavier Prou -- is a Parisian who grew up in the 16th arrondissement of Paris and studied at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.

The street artist also claims to have been the second person, behind fellow street artist Zloty Kamien, to have brought street art to Paris.

Le Rat was an avid follower of the political cartoons of Charlie Hebdo, claiming that he “waited impatiently” for the new edition every week.

With the deaths of some of France’s most celebrated political cartoonists, Jean Cabu, Georges Wolinski, Bernard “Tignous” Verlhac, as well as Charlie’s editor Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier, have said to effected the street artist greatly.

“Charlie somehow educated me,” Le Rat pronounced. “I adored the work of Wolinksi and Cabu - it is as if they killed a time of my youth. Again, it is so terrible there are no words.”

The French street artist's works featuring rats first appeared on the banks of Seine when Banksy would still have still been in primary school, if reports of his age are to be believed.

In his unauthorized biography, Banksy stated: "Every time I think I've painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek le Rat has done it as well, only 20 years earlier."

Today's homepage Featured Art Video recaps thirty years of Paris street art painted by Blek le Rat.