The artist known as Daku often combats a strange problem – that of being termed India’s Banksy. Luckily for him, the walls he tags only get painted over by panicked municipalities, and not sold at auctions, thus averting a crisis of conscience. As one of the few graffiti and street artists whose notoriety precludes the world’s interest in his name. Like the dacoits and robbers of a bygone era, Daku says he lives to steal (in his case, walls for his art).
Though he’s been tagging streets since 2006, Daku became a talking point after his text-based decryption of the word ‘fuck’ began appearing (in the Devnagri script used by Hindi and Marathi readers) across Mumbai and New Delhi, on dilapidated buildings, electric meter boxes and walls off busy intersections. The work captured generational anxiety and was a subversion of the “official” devnagri script, used across all government forms etc. Daku’s work is truly street art as he experiments with form and medium.
His street paste up mocking the Louis Vuitton logo at the corner where the urban village of Khirkee Extension meets the posh Select CityWalk mall, or his pedestrian signs with simplistic instructions like “Stop Promising”, “Stop Shopping” or “Stop Raping” which tap into the social psyche of their surroundings.
He uses it to engage socio-political scenarios and steers clear of outright vandalism. His style is a mix of his interest in typography and in a bid to reach across all ages and borders, often employs local type, including Devnagri and Urdu.
Originally from Gujarat, and a former ad-guy, Daku’s work can be seen across Mumbai, Delhi and Fort Kochi (Kerala) in India.
All images courtesy St+Art Delhi and the artist.