Street Artist DAIN Merges Hollywood Glam and Graffiti
Whether happening on a colorful wheat-paste of a Hollywood icon or viewing his similar collaged paintings on wood in a white-walled gallery, street artist DAIN's exciting work unquestionably captures the audience's attention. Born in Brooklyn, DAIN combines glamourous black and white head shots of Hollywood actresses both old and new from Elizabeth Taylor to Angelina Jolie with collage from newspapers, advertisements and fashion magazines and vibrant spray paint, most noticeably and iconically around the eye of the Hollywood stars. Throughout his artistic practice, DAIN manages to deftly straddle the fine art and the street art world, maintaining the grittiness and rawness of the street.
We spoke to DAIN about the art around him when he was growing up in Brooklyn, his love for old Hollywood and what will be on view in his widely anticipated upcoming solo exhibition at Avant Gallery, which opens on February 27.
You were born and raised in Brooklyn. How did growing up in New York influence your art?
DAIN: Growing up in New York City, it's like no other place. The diversity of people, the culture, the style–it can't be matched. Graffiti used to be huge here, especially in the late '70s early '80s. Trains were covered floor to ceiling. Art was all around and still is.
You started out as a graffiti writer and then moved to the street art images that you are now known for. When did you start doing work in the street?
I started graffiti years ago but began wheat-pasting about 6 years ago.
Your work definitely retains a sense of graffiti with the dripping circle around the eye. There seems to be a bit of a tension between graffiti writers and street artists, as well as a confused distinction between the two. Do you see a distinction between street art and graffiti?
Not really. I respect both art forms.
What is it like for you to move from wheat-pasting your art on the street to showing your work in galleries like Miami's Avant Gallery?
I love showing work in galleries. I want my art to maintain a street grittiness though.
In your work, you use black and white photographs of Hollywood icons such as Angelina Jolie and Audrey Hepburn as the foundation for your collage technique. What is the importance of these Hollywood icons to you and your work?
I really just love that old hollywood glam look. The big eyes, soft lips and dramatic hair styles. Women were beautiful with their clothes on. Old films made you think. Everything was not painted for you, but you had to use your imagination.
Who inspires you as an artist?
I'm not sure. I really do not follow many artists.
What can we expect at your upcoming show at Avant Gallery in Miami?
I hope to have about twenty new pieces for the show. There will be less collage and more painting. I also did three works on canvas. I mostly work on wood. There will be some old Hollywood and some new faces. There will also be some larger pieces as well.
Images courtesy the artist and Avant Gallery, Miami