“Measure the Immeasurableness” at the University of Borås. Photo by the artist.
DALeast artist profile, by Rafael Schacter
Hailing from Wuhan, central China’s most populous city, Daleast depicts the tense relationship between contrasting worlds — the natural and artificial, the organic and the synthetic. His aesthetic strives to bring these seemingly irreconcilable binaries into coalescence. Although his trademark style — his metallic, monochromatic, sculptural figures — can now be experienced all over the world, his practice remains strongly influenced by Eastern philosophy, by the spirit and energy imbued in the natural world. Inspired both by the internal immateriality of dreams and emotions and the external physicality of material and form, Daleast’s skeletal, spiralled imagery attempts to bring his part-animal, part-machines to life, endowing them with an emotion and spirit that he hopes can surpass their purely illustrative form.
Active in the burgeoning Chinese graffiti scene since 2004, Daleast was a founding member of the Wuhan-based artist project group Chirp, one of the earliest groups in China to merge public art and graffiti. He studied sculpture at the Institute of Fine Arts in his hometown, but quit the year before completing his degree after disagreeing with the school’s teaching methods. Moving to Beijing in 2009, Daleast began to focus more on what he sees as a public art rather than strictly graffiti practice, starting at this point to also produce fine art work for a more gallery based context.
Daleast’s current practice, his three-dimensional, wire-like artworks, can be seen as a natural fusion of his illicit and institutional educations. Half-robotic and half-biotic, the contorted, large-scale, sculpturesque forms he produces reveal what lies beneath the surface, highlighting the foundational frameworks that hold the physical world together: He evokes a fantasy in which the natural and the synthetic become one, resulting in mongrel creatures that illustrate the beauty rather than the horror that can spring from such a union. Putting his art into public space so as to share his “experience and emotion with people,” not to tell them “about right or wrong,” Daleast thus attempts to confront the viewer on conceptual as well as spectacular levels, a pictorial synthesis of a half-mechanized, half-organic world.