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City of Talents Brings Legendary Graffiti Writer Daze to Toulouse

  • Daze Street Art
February 5, 2020
A philosophy graduate interested in critical theory, politics and art. Alias of Jelena Martinović.

One of the pioneers of graffiti, Daze began his prolific career by painting New York City subway cars in 1976. He soon transitioned from the trains to the studio, having his first group exhibition in the Mudd Club in New York in 1981, alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. This legendary artist continues to make distinct works today, both on canvas and city streets.

City of Talents, an event agency specializing in Urban Art, is bringing Daze’s latest body of work to Toulouse. Titled Next Wave, the exhibition will provide a unique insight into the artist’s current practice.

Daze - Big Boss Head, 2018, Daze - Undersea Dream, 2018
Left: Daze – Big Boss Head, 2018 / Right: Daze – Undersea Dream, 2018

The Practice of Daze

Growing up in the 1970s Brooklyn, the creative flair of young Chris Ellis aka Daze was first sparked by the eye-popping graphics splattered on subway cars. “I didn’t know if it was art,” Daze once recalled, “but I knew it was creative.”

With subway cars being his first canvas, Daze’s swirling subway creations began to spill onto the city’s unadorned walls. This renegade culture was developing without any kind of support, guided by the do-it-yourself philosophy.

Soon, the graffiti writer began to work on canvas, exploring more personal, intimate themes. Reflecting the environment that he came out of, these works featured dreamy imagery fused with urban landscapes.

Daze - Chain link, Dream 2, 2017, Daze - Don’t go that way, go this way, 2019
Left: Daze – Chain link, Dream 2, 2017 / Right: Daze – Don’t go that way, go this way, 2019

Works in the Show

The audience will have a chance to see works from the mysterious tunnel series, reminiscent of poetic underground escape routes that draw us in with their promise of adventure. The tunnels and rails are also present in the bright blue work Untitled, propelling the viewer toward an immaculate white spot, the end of the horizon or, possibly, a new beginning.

Daze’s distinct poetic visual language is also evident in the highly lyrical New York series that begins with a fixed celestial glance. While we can almost hear the city sounds, the eternally bright blue sky requires and inspires deeper reflection.

The exhibition will also bring together some of his abstract works, namely Spoiler Alert and Inside the Blues. Using his signature as a central feature, Daze continues to develop the work with his trademark cavalier dynamism. After all those years, strong, simple lines and a keen sense of composition continue to provide a bold foundation for Daze’s work.

Daze Train Graffiti
Daze Train Graffiti

Daze at Institut Catholique de Toulouse

A strong love for New York flows in the DNA of Daze’s work, combined with intrinsic poetry and bold storytelling. The visitors will now have a unique opportunity to experience the distinct art of one of the greatest Urban Art legends.

The exhibition Next Wave by Daze will be on view at Institut Catholique de Toulouse from February 7th until February 29th, 2020.

Featured image: Daze Street Art. All images courtesy of the City of Talents.