SEEN: An Emergence From Anachronism
Words by Dan Plasma Rauch
Photos by Dragonfly Girl
Richie “SEEN” Mirando, one of the most iconic graffiti artists in the movement, a legend from the NYC Old School. Steve “Blade” Ogburn calls himself “the king of Graffiti” but in all likelihood, the title probably belongs to “SEEN” for his techniques, history, bravery and skills.
Master of painting trains, SEEN’s recent 3 million dollar deal with Opera Gallery in Paris shows that he is one of the few in the field who can lucratively ascent to greatness, by simply cashing in on his tag and 80’s street image and fame. SEEN appeared in Henry Chalfant’s pivotal 1980s books about graffiti and was a key figure in the early documentaries like “Style Wars” which popularized the graffiti art movement which is now a staple of publishing houses and major museums.
But unlike the other gritty artists from the streets SEEN’s new show is a clear ascent from mundane commercialism and formality, a celebration of his own vision, aside from the tagging ad graffiti stuff. Half of his new show was comprised of unusual SEEN works which look nothing like graffiti. Big globs of paint, geometrically stretched by printmaking squeegees, canvases he did in Paris for fun, for himself, not for money. It’s something hard for us as true Americans to understand, a life of adventure and joy devoid of thoughts of finance, but that’s what inspired this new vision from SEEN: living a much better and richer life than we have over here, living in the moment, like it was a movie.
Those lost in anachronistic fantasies won’t understand this new work. It’s not a re-sale of tags or reputation, the classic stale formula used by most former NYC graffiti artists desperately looking to avoid a day job. There are no subway maps here, no painted street signs or the other tired stereotypes that killed graffiti art. Love it or hate it, SEEN’s controversial and groundbreaking new work is real art, not just a legend phoning in their rep and history for a buck. I love it personally, and I think most people would appreciate it, from a simple aesthetic level to a profound complex one. But the the graffiti world is standing puzzled and miffed. Art is profound, and is only art when it doesn’t fit into a mold. Then and only then does visual creativity become a blessing, a landmark in time which improves peoples lives. Richie did what he wasn’t supposed to do, which is what real art is, going beyond what is, the definition of metaphysical. His old innovations have become staples so he needed to break new ground and pierce the fabric of reality and consciousness again. SEEN’s fresh new work can be seen through April 9th in Santa Monica at Kelly “Risk” Graval’s new gallery, BuckShot Gallery.