SEEN’s ‘[UN]SEEN’ Abstract Spray-Paint Art

March 6, 2013 | Eugene Reznik

Bronx-born “Godfather of Graffiti,” SEEN, known for his full-color, top-to-bottom throw-ups on New York City subway cars dating back to 1973, has been undergoing a radical departure from the street style he helped pioneer.

For his latest work, on view right now at Fabien Castanier Gallery in California, he weaves thick layers of drips and splatters on canvas creating spray-paint-based classically abstract fine art.

“[UN]SEEN” is his first solo exhibition in the US in 8 years, showcasing the work he made after moving to Paris in 2007. He says the move gave him the inspiration for experimenting and pushing the limits of work which first earned him his reputation.

It makes sense that the transition come from an original innovator of the form. Though some old-school graffiti buffs may be put off by the breakaway, it does demonstrate artistic growth.

If you look close at SEEN’s work, there have been elements of abstraction throughout his career. Now, oddly enough, he has fewer constraints.

“The graffiti where I grew up – it was locked into a box,” he says, “into a frame with an outline. I took the letter, an abstract piece basically, and I was confining it by putting an outline around it. Now, it’s totally released.”

“[UN]SEEN,” SEEN, Feb 23 – Mar 24, Fabien Castanier Gallery, Studo City, CA