Rabindranath Tagore published his earlier works under a pen name as Bhonita or Bhanu Singh Thakur. Many poets, musicians, painters, etc. prefer their real identities to remain under shadows like famous composer Marshmello’s revealed his true self after much hue and cry recently. Some painters have taken the responsibility of creating awareness by widening the scope of Indian paintings through graffiti.
These anonymous faces are covered but their eyes show the fierceness of a rebel trying to break through the fetters clamped on their freedom. They operate in dark. They generally work at a time when we are probably heading for the comfort of our homes. They make the dull wall of an abandoned plot or building talk with graffiti. Also known as graffiti writers, they are probably those people who do not operate from the cozy studios painting in solitude.
Their canvas is conspicuous walls of the entire city and not paper or canvas. The most common form of graffiti that we have witnessed while growing is advertisements of self-proclaimed doctors, plumbers, electricians, coaching houses, admonitions for people who relieve themselves anywhere, election campaigns, and one of my personal favorites and hilarious of all, 90 hours English learning program.
The difference between these and graffiti art is that they are meant for beautifying a place or address a serious problem prevailing in the society that has been left unaddressed for too long. Here is the story of one of the trio of musketeers that have been enlivening the dim parts of the town for a while.
The Graffiti Gang
Daku’s faceoff with Law
One of the trio who works as a graphic designer by the day and ‘Daku’ by the night is one of the most active graffiti writers of Delhi. He was once nabbed by two police officers one night at someplace in south Delhi. The masked 29-year-old art vigilante was asked to pay two and a half lakh rupees by the cops for vandalizing the property. This time he got away by paying Rs. 2000.
One of the deals was settled in Rs 200 when he was caught the next time. This time he was fined for Rs. 50,000. He claims that policemen think that a person possessing expensive spray cans of colors and stupid enough to waste it on city walls must belong to a rich and well-connected family. The artist studied visualization at M.S. University situated at Baroda. He says that a Daku vandalizes the houses of the rich at night and retreats to shadows in the day. He just robs people’s thoughts through his art.
A graphic artist by day and Daku by Night
To Daku, becoming a street artist is not a momentary fling. He was snared into becoming one while growing up in Gujrat observing murals of Indian paintings. So, he became a graphic designer for a living and a graffiti artist for himself by the night. He shifted from Mumbai to Delhi in 2008. He went on air in the same year when he painted the underpass situated in south extension.
He has a Wikipedia page, a Facebook page and an Instagram account to his name where one can see his art. He was inspired by a website known as Streetfiles in the year 2006. After collaborating with artists from abroad like JonOne form France, he is now grouping with Zine and Bond.
Daku- The Brand
One could easily spot his ‘Tag’ or signature all over south Delhi. You may spot Daku written in various lingos and styles. The artist did his style at the Saket crossing while it was in the early stages of development. He made sure that his tag was not easily comprehendible. He made it in such a way that it took a while for people to understand. When they would have figured it out, they would have thought of the person who would have done it and smiled he muses sometimes.
The purpose of making Daku a brand is people to identify it, acknowledge it as a brand and think about the ideas propounded by the artist. His works could be easily spotted across various locations of Delhi and Mumbai like Old Delhi, Malviya Nagar, Goregaon, Saket, Airport area, etc.
He has been dared to come and spray paint at the VIP area of Parliament where security is tight and almost impenetrable. He has promised that he will one day reach there. He admits that he has tried to do his graffiti at more risky places like the metros of Germany.
He seems to have a way around the cops. Every time he is caught, he manages to escape. He quips that the funniest things of his escapades are that policemen are not able to figure out that he is Daku. He can always pretend that he was just a spectator passing by coming after his night shift or as if he was relieving himself. That’s common in India and a good excuse though!