The red panda, a small mammal that is on the endangered species list, appears on a building’s side just above the Bagmati Bridge in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The mural was created by Daas, a transcontinental artist and entertainer who wanted to draw attention to this mammal that is fighting for its survival. “Knowing that thousands of people, everyday, will see this huge, colorful painting – in a sea of grey, deteriorating buildings – felt like I was helping to breathe new life into the city,” Daas says. “I wanted to give the people something to spark awareness as well as imagination.”
In 2007, Daas, who was born in the United States, caught the attention of Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan, through his work on large-scale murals. Executives welcomed Daas to their team of live entertainers and he now calls the Kansai region of Japan his adopted home. His life and experiences in his new home led him to create his most recent series of paintings “The Origami Dream,” which has been in exhibited in both the U.S. and Japan.
Daas created his red panda mural during a journey to Kathmandu as part of Sattya Arts Collective’s “Kolor Kathmandu” project, which seeks to create 75 site-specific murals in Nepal. Visiting artists work alongside local artists and community members to create the murals that will inspire and attract visitors for years to come.
The artists participating in the project are all volunteers. Although paint and minimal supplies are provided by Sattya, travel expenses and accommodations for twenty-one days in Nepal were Daas’ first challenge. So, he launched a fundraiser online in an effort to help offset the cost.
In addition to creating the Kolor Kathmandu mural, Daas also led a mural workshop with students from the Shikshantar School, creating a large image of an elephant walking through a field of flowers. Innovation was key, as Daas and his Nepalese assistant Alok worked to instruct, supervise and paint. Supplies like scaffolding and ladders are hard to come by in Kathmandu. So, they improvised, attaching paint brushes to twelve-foot poles.
“It was a crazy technique, but lent itself to interesting effects and mistakes,” Daas said. He and Alok worked long after the school bell rang.
“In Kathmandu, life was hard, but I felt alive,” Daas added. “I find myself thinking about the wonderful people I met and the passion burning within them.” he said. “They don’t see the struggle, they see the journey.”
To see more of DAAS’s art, visit the Tikkun Daily Art Gallery or go to the artist’s website. Be sure to also visit the Kolor Kathmandu Project.