Walking along the street, the walls detain you: it’s not a photograph (even if it looks like it), it’s a mural with a face painted with such detail that you can feel the eyes staring at you. These are the kinds of experiences that you live when you experience the hyper-realistic artwork of Datoer, a young Yucatecan 100% dedicated to mural painting, whose colors are taking over the streets.
“I started making graffiti with spray paint in the 80s in abandoned lots, making art which expressed general themes about life and abortion, but I still hadn’t developed a signature,” remarks Daniel, the given name of the urban artist.
Many young people in Yucatán were inspired by the graffiti movement in New York, so along with his brother and a group of friends, they started painting the empty walls of Colonia Fidel Velázques, where they could express their voices, while they were still in middle school. At that time, they started the artist collective, GS Crew, which grew to more than 15 members.
Daniel was studying and working as well as perfecting his technique with spray paint graffiti up until three years ago, when he decided to dedicate himself solely to his art.
Today, he uses the signature “Datoer,” which represents his name, and the phrases in Spanish which mean “all of my life” and “to be.” His ultra-realistic style usually features faces and people as subjects, giving life to the person, so much so that you feel as if you are experiencing a real-life encounter.
“The faces of kids, women, and older adults are my favorite subjects. I want to show each expression, and the way the light illuminates each part of the face,” says Daniel. He also creates murals using a technique that resembles cross-stitch.
These days, he creates murals and paintings to order as well as decorations for houses and offices. “A mural two and a half meters tall and ten meters long can take two or more days to paint, once we have the scaffolding set up and the wall completely refinished. I start by sketching in spray paint and work my way to the details.” Daniel explains his process as he prepares for an exposition in the gallery of “Pizza del Perro Negro,” a restaurant that has commissioned several walls so that Daniel, his wife (who is also a graffiti artist), and the members of GS Crew can express themselves.
The graffiti in Yucatán has won a place in the urban art scene, not only from Datoer’s murals in Mérida, but also in Progreso, Motul, Chicxulub, and other cities. Every day there are more artists dedicating themselves to this art form across the entire state. New artists begin painting enthusiastically at a very young age, always inspired by the cultural richness and faces of Yucatán.
“My favorite murals? The wall of Don Pío in Umán, a saddler, who inspires me with his incredible work in this field. Also, the flora and fauna of Yucatán on the Procon wall, which was a collaboration with other graffiti artists,” says Daniel. You can see Datoer’s work in the Fraccionamiento del Parque, Cinco Colonias, Galería Narcisa, Bistro Cultural, and a project painted with chalk in La Reforma.
Datoer has a clear vision of what he wants, which is to grow and paint on bigger buildings, improve the format of the murals, and continue to transmit a positive vision of life. “Knowing that someone might see my mural and feel happiness is a huge satisfaction for me,” shares the artist, who is so proud of his roots and the people in his culture.
What’s coming up in 2018? A project with José Cuervo for their mezcal “400 Conejos,” consolidating a space where young people can express themselves, and returning to work with a project in collaboration with the Program for Supporting Municipal Culture and Communities (PACMYC).
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