The way we look at art is often driven by the insatiable curiosity to uncover its meaning. We are almost never walked through the image by the artist herself, step-by-step. So, we usually focus on what a piece means to us as a viewer instead. However, some artists are more open about their intended message, and it often surprises us. This dynamic, however, works in both ways:
“I really appreciate when someone stops in front of the picture and imagines a completely different story that has nothing to do with what I think. And I love that kind of thing.”
DULK talking about “Extinction” for Moniker International Art Fair 2017. Video interview by Thinkspace Projects.
The artworks of the Spanish artist Antonio Segura Donat, better known as DULK, focus on a particular kind of a message: the vulnerability of animal life. Based on DULK’s own explanations in his interviews and online, he is exploring interactions of man-made and natural objects, troubling changes in climate, or even reflecting on the role animals play in human culture.
However, the resulting pieces are not at all monotonous or lecturing. Capturing the viewer's eye with the dream-inspired elements of surrealism and saturated colors, DULK extends a welcoming invitation to reflect on the relationship between the unusual subjects he is placing side by side. DULK’s open discussion gives us a rare opportunity to understand the mind, style, and inspiration of a talented artist.
Towards Street Art: From the Space of Mind, from the Pages of Encyclopedia
DULK gets his inspiration from the spaces within and without: images constructed by his imagination, as well as the images from the surrounding world. Both sound like familiar sources of inspiration when it comes to works of art in general, but there is a bit more to this. What DULK shared about his childhood sheds some light on the unique look of his art.
As a child, DULK helped his father to look after the birds they kept at home. He was also drawn to the illustrations of exotic animals in the old collection of encyclopedias owned by his parents, which he copied into his early sketchbook that stayed with him throughout the years.
This is where the influence of his sources of inspiration truly shows. DULK’s study of animal subjects from encyclopedias through sketch strokes evolved into a captivating amount of detail. His attunement to the world of dreams, meanwhile, gives his work that edge of enchanting surrealism that invites the viewer to study the familiar concepts and objects from a refreshing distant perspective.
Yet, the creative inspiration wasn’t the single force to push DULK on the path of his career of an illustrator and street artist. Around the time DULK was eighteen, his close friend gave him the idea to create some murals using spray paint, brushes and other mediums in the city and take on the pseudonym he has had to this day. As a result of the new creative focus, DULK chose to drop his economics major and to pursue illustration and graphic design education at the University of Valencia.
That’s when DULK’s path as a professional artist began.
DULK’s Street Art: Capturing Detail
Animal subjects done in the style of colorful books for children (and probably due to the feeling of fascination carried from DULK’s childhood) give DULK’s art a nostalgic, innocent feel. Yet, there is also that bit of a melancholy tone. It is often meditative, conveyed through pensive composition, color, and theme of his images. This allows DULK to make his reflection-inspiring statements about the complex relationship between the elements of nature and modernity.
It is of no surprise that the effort DULK puts into his work made him into a prominent figure in the Spanish urban artist and illustrator communities. Furthermore, his murals were featured at many prominent art shows around the world.
DULK’s Street Art as a Stage for Public Message
Relationship between the animal and the human are often at the heart of DULK’s portrayed themes, and the street art medium is an effective method of drawing attention to his message.
DULK’s street art illustration “Migration” for Art|Basel in 2016 is discussed on his Instagram page in regards to global climate change and its effects on migrations of birds like flamingos.
Along with other birds (and tourists), flamingos were escaping to Florida from the unforgiving onset of the cold climate. This was advertised as an opportunity to see some bird species that usually do not belong to the area, not as anything of particular concern.
Amidst the silence, DULK wanted to draw the attention of his passersby audience. He made them curious about objects featured in the mural and thus generated questions on the topic. His messages as an advocate of biodiversity are truly admirable: the thoughts he reveals behind each piece on his Instagram page reveal just how much thought he puts into his work.
DULK’s International Portfolio
DULK seems to take any medium as a challenge. Aside from being a street artist he also tackled standard art canvas, wood, and sculpture.
While he himself lives in Valencia, Spain, DULK participated in many artist group shows around the world. This includes large cities like Vancouver, Paris, Brussels, Miami, New York, and Chicago, along with other locations in England, Holland, Italy, and Germany.
Studying his portfolio is an exciting adventure around the world, from simple mediums to more challenging scales and surfaces, from a studio canvas to a building mural in Rome. Remarkable to note, his larger works still offer the same color saturation and detail as his smaller art.
Inspired by Folklore: DULK’s New Works and Upcoming Art Show
Before starting his work on a new piece of street art for an art show, DULK conducts some exploration of animal presence within the local area. This can be seen with DULK’s choice to represent the struggle of flamingos in Miami, but there are more surprising examples of this admirable approach.
His most recent work done this September, “Ak Bure” (“white wolf” in Tartarian), is a mural painted in Almetyevsk in Tatarstan, Russia. This time DULK’s street art was inspired by the famous Tartar legend that shares its name with this work.
Ak Bure is the spirit of Tartar forests who turns travellers that show him disrespect to stone. He protects plants and wild game from big groups of travellers. In the story it was the youngest son of a rich padishah who won the trust of the wolf spirit: this young man travelled without any accompanying soldiers and promised not to hunt or forage for anything when he met the white wolf, host of the forest. For DULK, the white wolf represents “unity, truth and love for nature.”
On his Facebook page, DULK shared a few teasers of his progress on the new set of works for his upcoming solo exhibition with Thinkspace Projects at SCOPE’s art gallery this December. DULK’s fans can’t wait to see more of his stunning art, and so can’t we.
DULK’s artwork hasn’t lost its captivating edge over the years and continues to surprise his audience with its distinct and colorful composition. DULK skillfully invites a great variety of interpretations towards what he features on canvas, without making his pieces feel too arbitrary, so you have probably formed your own interesting impressions about the art featured in this article.
At the same time, DULK continues to share his brave defense and praise of the animal world, which makes his work feel even more meaningful within the street art community. We hope we helped you develop a new appreciation for this gifted artist as well.