Urban artist Alexandre Farto, also known as Vhils , whose work has reflected the consequences of development in cities and communities all over the world, on Friday finished carving the portrait of a former factory worker on the wall of a Nan Fung Textiles building in Tsuen Wan now being transformed into a creative hub called The Mills. This project, co-organized by HOCA Foundation and The Mills Gallery, is the first portrait by the 28-year-old Portuguese artist in an outdoor space in Hong Kong, but is not a conventional one. The portrait was carved with a hammer drill in an operation that took about 13 hours. To shape faces, Vhils uses hammer drills, chisels and sometimes explosives to break down layers of walls, doors and other structures. "I work a lot with the chaotic elements of the city ... It's almost an archaeologist's work," he said. "Instead of painting with paints, I paint with layers. I try to reflect on them by exposing them … When you carve on a wall it really reflects the story of the city. If the history is recent, the wall is flat, it doesn't have many layers, and this has a meaning, too," he said. GALLERY: Putting a face to a wall: Portugal's Alexandre Farto gets set to carve his work on Hong Kong's urban art scene Vhils will complete two other portraits on the site this month. He drew inspiration from his research into the history of the Nan Fung cotton mill and its employees. The portraits will be temporary installations to be removed during the course of the heritage conservation project at The Mills, which is expected to be completed by 2018. Vhils, who started out as a graffiti artist, carved his first wall in 2006. "When I was trying to find my way, I came to the idea of not adding layers to the city, but instead erasing, then carving on it and exposing the layers behind. By doing that, I am reflecting on all the changes that a space goes through." The density of Hong Kong, its fast-paced rhythm and the shadows that lie behind glitzy facades might scare many people away. But to Vhils, the city's chaos fuels his creativity. That made him relocate from Lisbon to Hong Kong and open a studio in the city last September. "Hong Kong has everything that I love and hate in the public space. It's a sort of refuge for creation," he said. "All these glitzy buildings have a glamorous side, but they also cast a shadow. My work tends to focus on the shadow, because it's where many things are hidden," he said. "The contrast and the process that Hong Kong is going through is really interesting. It's very inspiring." Vhils said the difficulties faced by artists in the city, namely in finding affordable work spaces, were a trigger for his creation. "There's this idea that the public space should not have art, the public space has to be as clear and pristine as possible. I think art makes more sense in these places than in places where art is accepted," he said. Vhils has developed several community projects in places including Shanghai in 2012 and Brazil over the past three years. "My main aim is to reflect upon the process of development the world is going through. The pace of development has been so fast that it is hard to tell what has been lost between the lines and that will be forgotten forever," he said. "That's what drives me as an artist to work with communities that are feeling the pressure of development. I want to make the invisible visible, and give a voice to people who usually don't have one." The portrait of the factory worker, just finished, marks the beginning of a series of outdoor and indoor installations in the city co-organised by the non-profit Hong Kong Contemporary Art Foundation . It will lead to a solo exhibition for the artist next year.