SEEN, RISK & PRO176 - ICONS

June 01 2017 - July 31 2017
Amsterdam

Bringing together 3 of the world’s most renowned and iconic street artists in one show, Vroom &Varossieau Urban Contemporary Art presents ‘ICONS’ a group exhibition with SEEN (US), RISK (US) and PRO176 (FR). ‘ICONS’ will run from the 1st of June through the 31st of July 2017.

Why ‘ICONS’? An icon can mean many things. It stems from the ancient Greek word “Eikon”,meaning a mirror like representation. In art history when we speak of icon’s we talk about small religious images painted on wood, an icon was an object of devotion. In present day icons usually stand for the pictorial representation of something, for example the internet browser icon on your computer or the icon for your app-store on your phone. Icons are representations of a larger whole, like the eiffel tower has become an icon for the city of Paris and when we look at superheroes, one of the favourite subjects of SEEN and PRO176, they too are represented by their icons. Batman’s bat on a yellow background, Captain America’s prolific round shield in the colors of the US and of course when we see the shiny red S in it’s yellow triangle, we think of Superman straight away. Similarly SEEN, RISK and PRO176 have become artistic icons in their own right. Each in their own way becoming iconic through the years, representing the absolute top of graffiti culture and street art.  

About the artists SEEN, born Richard Mirando (New York, 1961) is a living legend of the graffiti art scene, often being referred to as ”The Godfather of Graffiti”. SEEN started by creating subway graffiti in the early seventies and came to prominence thanks to his vibrant and colourful lettering and masterful depictions of mass-media cartoon characters like Wonder Woman, Hulk and the Smurfs. From the early 80’s he has exhibited his work in galleries all over the world, together with the likes of Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Dondi and Blade.

RISK, born Kelly Graval (Louisiana, 1967) is known as one of the pioneers of West Coast, LA based street art, helping evolve graffiti to a serious art form. With a career that now spans over 30 years, RISK has solidified his place in the history books as a world-renowned graffiti legend. He was one of the first writers in California to paint freight trains and he pioneered writing on freeway overpasses and billboards that he calls “heavens.” Although RISK loves aerosol art, he sees it as just one genre of his impressive and diverse oeuvre.

PRO176, born Rudy Dougbe (Paris, 1976) started painting the streets of Paris in the 90’s. Inspired by the graphic comic books by Jack Kirby, his work has always been colourful and imaginative.

PRO176 was one of the first of the ‘Ultra Boys International’. A crew that invented a new form of Graffiti, deriving its aesthetic from comic books, alphabetical constructivism and even cubism, they were like a“Graffiti Avant-garde”. In 2009 PRO met SEEN while looking for a studio and the two artists collaborated soon after. SEEN has functioned as a mentor for PRO176, showing him how to use a brush and acrylics, giving his recent works a more polished look, thanks to the use of these new techniques.

Visions and dynamics As diverse as the three artist may be, their art and lives also show certain similarities. RISK had the following to say about the dynamic between the three artists: “I think the dynamic between my work and the work of PRO176 and SEEN, is that we have all come from a place of traditional graffiti having inspired us and it is what started our formal interest in art.” He also believes that all 3 artists have “struggled with inner demons as products of our environment and as we progress, art is our therapy. So I see our mindset as being the most dynamic catalyst of our work.” 

PRO176 sees himself as a “spiritual son” of both his mentor SEEN and RISK. He says: “I'm from another generation and from another continent, but I grew up being a strong graffiti addict.” The one lesson he remembers most from SEEN is that “everybody has a talent, but it's about working hard and developing it, that makes the difference…”

Photography: Aimee by Me