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'The Humanimal' Exhibition Celebrates Artist Daos501's 15-Year Journey in Graffiti

The set of artworks titled "The Humanimal" by Daos501 — an established name in Vietnam's graffiti scene — brought the harmony between nature and humans to Interlink’s art event.

Read the article in Vietnamese here.

Daos501 has already been a familiar name for many graffiti lovers in Vietnam. Even though he started from zero, Daos501 now owns numerous graffiti artworks and many collaborations with famous brands such as Beck’s Ice and Hennessy. He had three personal exhibition, and the most recent event he attended was the Interlink art event, which took place from December 23 to 27 last year.

The Interlink art event focused on the meaningful message of empathy to end 2020 on a positive note. Moreover, the event invited many famous artists from different art fields such as graffiti, installation, light performance, DJ, rap, hip-hop dance, etc.

A day before the event, Daos501 diligently prepared for the exhibition that marks his creative journey of 15 years. However, he still spent some time giving me a tour around the event’s arena before the showtime. Through life’s ups and downs with his paints and pieces of the city’s walls, this was the first time Daos501 shared his creative journey and the stories behind “The Humanimal” with the public.

“The Humanimal,” the milestone marking 15 years of growth

“I want to bring a new perspective about graffiti to everyone,” he shared with me about the aim of the show. The graffiti is no longer a simple paint stroke on the wall; he uses it to explore the connection between humans and nature. Even though there exists a conflict between humans and the surrounding, there is also a sense of harmony. “The Humanimal” not only gives us a peek into Daos501’s worldview but also allows us to reflect on our personal stories and redefine the way we interact with the surroundings.

Daos501’s exhibition pieces carry an intensity with bold and assertive paint strokes. Daos501 humorously called this art method “one shot, one kill.” To reach this level of confidence every time he picks up the can, he has gone through a long journey. At the beginning of his career, Daos501 had to paint on the city’s walls sneakily; thus, the time he got to compose the artworks was not that much. After a long time, this formed a pattern in which ideas and emotions only come to him once at a time.

“My feelings come very fast; that’s why I have to execute each paint stroke precisely. Also, when I was younger, I barely had any money to buy paint. Thus, in 'The Humanimal,' the artworks have strong and definitive paint strokes because I didn’t want to waste any paint. Every paint stroke has to carry meaning,” Daos501 recalled the significance behind his time of doing art on the street.

Among all the artworks displayed in the event, the piece ‘Vụt qua’ is Daos501’s favorite brainchild. There are many things about ‘Vụt qua’ that touches him. It was the last piece he finished, just one day before the event started. To create ‘Vụt qua,’ Daos501 daringly took a risk: mixing the  cheapest and most high-quality paint. That seemingly sporadic decision encapsulates many thoughts and feelings from an artist who’s stuck to graffiti since 2005, the time when a single spray can was considered valuable and expensive! The bleak smell of cheap paint evoked the challenging journey that Daos501 went through.

He shared: “Sometimes when I reminisce about the things that happened during my life and journey, as much as I tried to remember, everything gradually becomes blurry, and the only thing left was the fleeting sentiment. Hence, in ‘Vụt qua,’ the emotion was profoundly captured.”

Daos501 working on 'Vụt qua' before the event opening.

Another factor that made Daos501’s artworks in the Interlink event exceptional was the collaboration with visual artist Pick. The collaborative works encompass many visual layers, delivering unparalleled viewing experience and creating new art pieces right on the old ones’ foundation. According to Daos501, this exemplifies the refreshing innovative spirit of graffiti street culture: new pieces are born right on top of old ones — a constantly revamping and evolving form of art.

A serious game

Graffiti itself is a controversial art form. Daos501 prefers to label graffiti as a lifestyle more than a passion; such a lifestyle has both bright and dark sides. The bright side represents the city’s beauty and represents the voices of indie artists. However, Daos501 labels the dark side as vandalism. The boundary between the two sides is thin. Therefore, he always reminds himself: “Every day, I strive to turn the dark side into the bright side and persuade everyone that I’m participating in a serious craft.”

Fifteen years is not a short amount of time. Some people had already given up, and some had put a pause in their passion. But for Daos501, his determination with graffiti has honed him into the person he is today — an independent artist with an ardent love for art. To younger enthusiasts who are starting out or struggling with graffiti, Daos501 advised: “If you want to partake in this for a long time, keep your passion with a stern determination. Only after you’ve been on a journey long enough can you enjoy the  worthy results for your hardship.”

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