Louis lee, the founder of Vandalist Art
Louis lee, the founder of Vandalist Art

What made you start Vandalist Art?

I first visited Dubai at the back end of 2017 for an unrelated business matter. After exploring the the current art market in Dubai and specifically the street art market I noticed some what of a gap in terms of general street art coverage as in events, curation etc. there where at that time already some great artist already active here and I decided that I wanted to play a part in helping to grow the genre within the Emirates.

I was already dealing art privately in the UK and also had an art based company doing exhibitions and curation. I continued visiting Dubai throughout 2018 formulating my plan and in 2019 I re-branded my existing company into Vandalist Art basically to stream line what i believe in, what I invest in and what I am thoroughly passionate about and that is street art.

in April 2019, I committed 100% to what I was now building and I moved to Dubai full time, participated in World Art Dubai 2019, won best gallery award and boom Vandalist Art was born. WAD was a huge success and that year and we have since partnered with World Trade Centre to launch Urban Art DXB which initially took place at Rove hotel in November 2019 and was a main feature at WAD 2020 which was even bigger and better.

What kind of art do you focus on?

As Vandalist Art we only focus on street art.

How do you work with artists?

We cover every aspect of the street art market so we work with artists individually or as a collective group. we cover event curation, commissions, private sales and installations commercial and privately.

We also work with artists through e-commerce and our website re-launches this month.We work with each artist individually and focus massively on building the best possible relationship between us and them.

Do you believe street art has attained a unique position in Dubai’s art scene? Is it becoming a bit mainstream and commercialized?

I feel that there is a long way to go in terms of the position we see street art holding within the UAE art scene over the next 10 years. however lets remember street art has only been recognised here for the past 7-8 years max and in that time it has come on leaps and bounds. It will continue to grow at this rate thru brands Like Vandalist via events social media and a continues push of the genre buy all that are currently involved.

In line with this growth, we are certain that within the next couple of years we will be the biggest and most recognized street art brand within the region. I believe that street art is no different, it is a pure expression of creativity from todays Micheal Angelos and DaVincis! I believe if they where alive today they would definitely be doing Graffiti with us.’

Do you feel street art is a bit in the vacuum in UAE as we don’t have the street art per se like the one you can find on streets or train stations of London or Rome?

‘The only reason we don’t see as much actual street art is simply the strict and respected laws of the UAE. There are however a few artists out there that are active and lets say bend the rules a little. You can see these works in places like Al Quoz and other industrial areas.

However its acceptance is slowly growing; let’s use JBR as an example there is currently a huge mural by street art legend Ben Eine that on visiting Dubais JBR you simply can not miss. Although it will never be as accepted as it is in other parts of the world i believe this will continue to become mainstream on buildings and landmarks over the coming years.’

What is more important in street art: the message or the execution?

I feel that both are equally important: a powerful and meaningful message can be lost in poor execution or production of work.

What international artists do you represent?

We would go as far to say that there is not a street artists work we can not source if wanted or needed. In terms of international artists we represent we work very closely alongside Pure evil , a uk street art legend, We represented Ben Eine at world art Dubai 2019 with both Pure Evil and Bens attendance and keep in contact with Ben regally and One to watch in the coming years who already has a huge cult following and regally drops sell out print releases Marco Gomez Maseda, a Spanish based artist we will be working closely with this year.

What are your favorite graffiti styles?

Personally I’m a huge fan of stenciling produced buy artists such as Banksy and bleak le rat. i also have massive appreciation of the unique style of Jean Michelle Basquiat. his stye is sometimes likened to that of a child which as a adult is a art in itself to produce.

Do you think art is a great investment? What emerging artists would you advice to keep an eye on?

You are very active in organizing live painting shows. What makes a successful performance (interaction, sharing on social, being a part of an experience)

It’s fair to say that the shows we have done in Dubai so far have been a success and I think thats down to the fact the we are always pushing to come up with new ideas and push boundaries. I feel that in the region and current market its akl about engagement and interaction. the high creasing and white wall affect doesn’t really sell here so you will see us always pushing for the involvement and engagement with the public who attend any of our events.’

What are your plans for 2021? What art events will you be joining in Dubai?

This year you will be seeing more from us than ever. we will once again be curating urban art dub with exiting new ideas and content for its visitors including customized stenciling and the new VR concept brand we have launching soon which will be a exclusive online members portal showcasing and offering one off never beefier seen piece from some huge artists.

We will be doing a art party launch night for all Vandalist arts new extended arms which will include Vandalist Tv our engaging regional youtube channel and the vandalism clothing brand.

How can an artist join you? What are you looking for when you select an artist?

We are always looking for fresh talent to join the Vandalist team. We love working with artists who are just as passionate about the street art market as we are. Traits we look for in a artists are attention to detail, creativity, imagination to go above and beyond and set trends, commitment and flawless execution. If you are a artist that meets the above then reach out to us via any of our social channels.

Follow @vandalistartdxb for more updates on the street art scene in Dubai