NEW YORK – After seeing a particularly striking woman on the door of the Performing Garage in SoHo, her head shaved, and skin tinted with green and pink spray paint, I wondered who was injecting extra intrigue into the street art scene. Fortunately a few tags and some Internet research later, I found out his name is Dain.
Dain begins with a glamorous head shot – think Elizabeth Taylor, Twiggy, and Audrey Hepburn, though newer stars like Angelina Jolie, and even a few men creep in. The black-and-white shots are stunning on their own, but only the beginning. Piecing together observations from the images and from interviews, it seems Dain fuses multiple photographs together-maybe Elizabeth Taylor’s eyes with Marilyn Monroe’s neck, and perhaps a nose of the hair of another person, all remixed and re-matched to create a whole new cyborg beauty.
After the features comes the clippings from advertisements, logos, old-fashioned magazine editorials and anything else he can get his hands on. There’s a fair amount of miniature polka dots that looked ripped straight from a Lichtenstein painting. Finally, Dain adds the paint. Sometimes it’s aerosol spray paint applied like a filter, a brief sheen of neon green or pink. Other times he uses bright acrylics applied in a circle and dripped around one eye, a signature mark.
It’s those eyes that catch you every time. In doorways, on lampposts and street signs, no amount of spray paint, or glitter, or collaging tames those stares; they could burn holes in you.
Now if only he would use more men. As the recently departed David Bowie proves, they can be glamorous too.
By ILANA NOVICK