DALeast is a well-known Chinese-born artist creating awe-inspiring, three-dimensional artworks. His trail of large murals spans several continents. “I aspired to depict the tense relationship between the natural and artificial; the organic and synthetic; creating a bifurcated aesthetic that brings these seemingly irreconcilable binaries into an interesting coalescence,” he tells.
DaL was in Kathmandu for his first art exhibition in the country. ‘Spark of Thousand Dreams’ – an art exhibition by Emily Avery Yoshiko Crow and DALeast was presented by Licchavi House.
“I have always loved Nepal and wanted to share my art here since long.” DaL says.
Based in Cape Town and Berlin in the past 10 years, the prolific artist used to spend over half the year travelling around the world and painting in different cities. The muralist – sculptor – painter has created works of art on walls and buildings in Paris, Miami, New York, London, Johannesburg, New Delhi and more than 50 cities and places.
“I like to express life-emotions and the perceptions, and use different art forms to communicate. I prefer people to feel my work rather than conceptualise them,” says DaL who has been dedicated to the arts since childhood. He studied sculpture at the Institute of Fine Arts in China, and began leaving his art mark in public spaces 2004. He states that there’s more uncertainty in the public space. “The process is a conversation with the public. It’s more private and intimate than working in the studio,” he says.
He has painted numerous pieces around the world, particularly a number of bird-themed murals in Poland and Spain. “I also did one in New York. It is a towering painting of a bird clutching another bird on the side of a Manhattan building,” he says.
DaL says, “My imagery usually depict scenes inspired from nature. I am fascinated by different forms of art and played with several mediums – painting, sculpture, installations, synchronising performance, and digital art.” His use of frenetic lines to compose animals, human, and other forms is almost instantly recognisable globally.
His trademark metallic, monochromatic and sculptural aesthetic can be seen all over the world, all the while retaining a strong influence of the Eastern wisdom tradition and philosophy that the artist holds close to his heart. Dal’s skeletal, spiraled images attempt to bring his part-animal, part-machines to life, endowing them with an emotion and spirit that surpasses their purely illustrative qualities.
One of his other celebrated works includes a mural showing a massive observant deer, its body made up of twigs in Lodz, Poland. “The giant deer has its inner body transforming into roots for the birds to nest in,” he explains. Animals are his main subject matter. “My animal subjects sometimes are typically depicted in two disconnected parts, often disintegrating at the center or falling away at the sides,” he shares. Within every piece of art, a pop of colour observed in the background brings his subject to life. The use of fractured imagery and contrasting backgrounds pulls audiences.
In one of his attempts to raise awareness about conservation and preservation of sharks and other marine species, DaL painted a double piece showing a human on one and shark on another wall of the same building. “Using minimalist colour palette that accents the water element on a shark, both images are slowly decomposing towards each other, symbolising mutual dependence,” he explains. This piece of work is in San Diego, USA.
As part of his first UK solo show ‘The London Dare – The Finale Night’ in London which was curated by Rom Levy, the artist, all in all, painted seven walls through the streets of London in 2013.
In neighbouring country, India, his work in Lodhi Colony, Delhi is titled ‘Dust Stream’. It is a swarm of painted black birds dashing into a tree that’s growing out of an arch spacefrom the actual wall. “I love the birds in India, often when I looked up, I could notice countless dots floating up high in the sky, like a stream of dust, emanates a magical feeling, after I zoom in with lens, I could open up a world of birds who were dancing in their rituals, this inspired me to create this mural,” he shares.
When viewing DaL’s art, there is seemingly magic in his ability to establish illusion with a certain combination of lines and simple elements. He delivers a sense of wonder with his work every time. One aspect of this style which makes his art truly amazing is how skillfully he places his splintered lines in order to capture movement, form, stillness or feeling.