In his first solo U.S. show in eight years, [Un]Seen at Fabien Castanier Gallery in Studio City, the legendary graffiti artist Seen gives us a peak into an experimental series of abstract paintings produced while living in Paris from 2007 to 2012. A vast departure from the mostly text-driven graffiti for which he is world renown, the exciting canvases in [Un]Seen dance with color. Painted in the familiar graffiti medium of spray paint, they are paradoxically simple and complex at the same time.
At first glance, Seen’s spot paintings, like Abstract Tryptych, (spray paint on canvas, 77 X 153 inches) are deceptive in their simplicity. Apparently comprised of countless similar size spots of spray paint, the work is surprisingly layered and rich with dimension. Viewed for more than a superficial moment, and from different angles, the spots of color interrelate, forming subtle patterns. The paintings are textured, but as it turns out, not nearly as much as the ones the artist left behind.
In a conversation at the opening reception, Seen explained that the paintings selected for this exhibit are among the least layered he completed during his years of experimentation in Paris. In fact, most of the paintings are still in Paris – the paint too thick for the canvases to be rolled up for shipping. We may not get to see those, but we do get taste of the flip side of this artist’s intriguing vision.
Distinctly different from the spot paintings, are the many canvases on which Seen explores variations on a grid-like pattern. These paintings feature precise vertical and horizontal lines intersecting across the surface plane. Some of these works, coated with resin, have an added luster. The reflected light on the surface adds yet another visual layer.
In Seen’s abstract works, light and color are distilled to their pure essence. Whether the artist is rendering lines or spots, the elements are applied with precision – cleanly defined. While the properties of spray paint may lend themselves to producing purity of color and form, it is apparent Seen has mastered this medium, manipulating it with dexterity and eloquence.
Born Richard Mirando in the Bronx, New York in 1961, Seen began painting in the New York City subway with his crew, the United Artists, in 1973. Evolving from the world of street art, the artist started painting on canvas in the 1980s.Top Image: Abstract 13, Spray paint on canvas (51 X 63.75 inches)
[Un]Seen: Solo Exhibition by Seen
February 23rd to March 24th, 2013
Fabien Castanier Gallery
12196 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City 91604
Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday 12 to 6 p.m.