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Uncovering the Mysteries of Sir Daniel Winn

Uncovering the Mysteries of Sir Daniel Winn

Photographer – Storm Santos


An eccentric artist with a passion for quantum physics and philosophy, Sir Daniel Winn came to America as a Vietnamese refugee after escaping war-torn Vietnam in 1975. He originally studied medicine before going against family wishes and dropping out to pursue art. He went on to develop his own artistic philosophy "Existential Surrealism" and work with artists to raise them to blue-chip museum caliber before his own work was featured in esteemed exhibitions worldwide at The Met, Bowers Museum and more. He then opened Winn Slavin Fine Art on Rodeo Drive, in Shanghai and Vietnam with husband Randall J. Slavin. Also heavily involved in philanthropy, Daniel's been knighted at the Princely House of Schaumburg-Lippe-Nachod for his extensive work in the U.S. and Asia and named "Philanthropic Artist of the Year" by the Hollywood NEST Foundation.


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In your journey from escaping war-torn Vietnam to establishing Winn Slavin Fine Art on Rodeo Drive, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced, and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenges were having to adapt to the lifestyle and culture of America compared to Vietnam. It was very different in terms of social interaction, family, and culture. I overcame it by understanding that, while people are different, we are yet the same, too. We all share such common emotions as pain, suffering, joy, and happiness. Regardless of race or where we come from, we’re always yearning for the same thing. Additionally, I faced internal challenges, such as growing up in an orphanage, living on the street, and revisiting those experiences as a young adult. I suffered from PTSD as a child and overcame it through optimism and knowing that I'm here for a reason. I learned to embrace whatever happens to me and to view it as a life lesson that I can use for my future.


Can you share a pivotal moment or experience from your time as a refugee that significantly influenced your perspective on life and art?

The significant moment was when I was escaping Vietnam at age nine. I was on a cargo plane, passed out, and eventually on a commercial airline. I looked down on the earth through the window and, for the first time, realized I was in a world I never knew existed. That moment made me think about existence. It made me question the idea of life, the earth, the planet, and the universe. And inspired me to make a difference in this world.


Your artistic philosophy, "Existential Surrealism," is quite intriguing. How did your background in quantum physics and philosophy contribute to the development of this unique approach?

Through college, I gained a better understanding of physics, mathematics, art, and philosophy. Being in pre-med and learning about the human body also intrigued me, especially the similarities it had to mathematics. This prompted me to study art more deeply, focusing on the Fibonacci Sequence and the golden ratio. Understanding these formulas helped me to realize what I needed to do with my art in order to communicate my philosophy. Existential Surrealism, for me, explores the basic questions of existence, like “What is the meaning of life?” My goal is to share what those answers might be through my art using mathematics, physics, and biology.

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Your collaborations with other artists to elevate them to blue-chip museum caliber are commendable. What drives you to support and promote fellow artists in this way?

I love to share my ideas with artists who are philosophical thinkers like myself. Promoting and supporting artists’ careers happened by accident, not by choice. As we were establishing our company as an art agency, I had to put my artistic endeavors aside in order to ensure the integrity of our company and support our investors. I feel like the universe decided this path for me, and so I did not resent or regret it. Helping artists from a place of altruism actually wound up enhancing my understanding of the art world and how other artists think. Over two decades the experiences I accumulated through the art world, museums, and selflessly working with the artists we represent also enhanced my own artistic ability, technically, emotionally, and intellectually. It helped to catapult my career. It ultimately helped me to reach a point most artists only dream of reaching much faster than if I’d focused solely on myself.


Opening art galleries in locations as diverse as Rodeo Drive, Shanghai, and Vietnam is quite ambitious. What led you to choose these particular locations, and how do they influence the art you showcase?

We chose iconic locations like Rodeo Drive, Shanghai, and Vietnam because they offer prime visibility for my art. Rodeo Drive is renowned for its iconic brands. Having a gallery in Beverly Hills that represents my art positions me with these iconic retail brands. I also chose Asia, specifically Shanghai and Vietnam, because I wanted to share my innermost visions with my culture.



Your recent art film "Creation" generated significant buzz. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind the film and your choice to convey your artistic philosophy solely through visuals, dance, and music?


"Creation" was my way of sharing my vision, not just through visual arts but also through performance art. I believe that watching something can potentially provide viewers with a better understanding of my philosophy than by viewing only paintings or sculptures. I’m deeply grateful for the many awards the film received on the festival circuit.


Sir Daniel Winn


We understand you just wrapped principal photography for “Ectropy.” How does "Ectropy," the prequel to “Creation,” set the stage for the broader narrative arc of the trilogy, particularly in relation to the themes explored and the characters introduced?


The trilogy starts with "Creation," followed by the prequel "Ectropy," and ends with "Entropy." Although filmed out of sequence, there is always an end and a beginning to everything. "Ectropy" is like the beginning, the Big Bang. It represents chaos creating order, which is the galaxies. “Creation” comes next in the cycle. And "Entropy" represents that transition from order back into chaos, completing the cycle. The trilogy is a cycle where everything returns to the same place.


Can you provide any insight into the connections or continuity between "Ectropy" and its sequel "Creation"? How do these films complement each other within the larger storyline of the trilogy?

"Ectropy" transitions from chaos to order. Once you have order, "Creation" can begin and life can start its cycle. As life matures in "Creation," it eventually deteriorates, leading to "Entropy," where order transitions again into chaos. This cycle continues, highlighting the interconnectedness within the trilogy.