There was a time when dioramas were staid scenes of stuffy, Midwestern downtowns and bucolic train lines. But artists have recently begun challenging this narrative, recreating cities from all over the world, injecting social commentary and challenging subject matter into them. 1way2hell definitely flips the genre on its head.
The Bangkok artist focuses on urban grime and forgotten spaces, always covered with rebellious, energetic graffiti. His work features broken windows and overflowing trash cans; piles of garbage bags and rusted fences; wheat-pasted advertisements and curse words scrawled by angry commuters. But the throw ups and tags are what make the pieces stand out, which are the work of real writers, mostly those from Bangkok, but also people in town for a spraycation. They act almost like a black book, the notebooks that writers use to collect each other’s work when they meet. But they’re better because they capture more of what graffiti is.
He got his start about two years ago, inspired by an American artist doing something similar. But he wanted something specific to Thailand. He studied architecture for a little while before dropping out to work as a salmon distributor. The models they used in school helped him a bit, but mostly he learned by watching YouTube videos.
He uses affordable, easy-to-find materials like wood-plastic composites and poster board, which he cuts and assembles into whatever surface he’s working on. Window grates are made from plastic knitting frame grids and old fluorescent bulbs from Q-tips. Ultimately, he hopes to make a whole neighborhood with several city blocks like a miniature movie set.
1way2hell is an active writer himself and started painting over ten years ago. When he’s out in the streets getting up, he pays attention to his surroundings for diorama ideas, sometimes snapping pics. Graf can be so ephemeral, it can disappear overnight. It might be painted over by the building’s owner, another writer might take the spot, advertisements get plastered over it, or the wall could even get torn down. Photos are a great way to document them but they often fail to capture the surroundings that are a part of what graffiti is about. And painting indoors or on a canvas removes a lot of its excitement and context. He’s found a new medium to document the work.