As part of the celebrations on the reopening of the Kettle’s Yard Gallery in the normally conservative university town of Cambridge, the French-Tunisian artist El Seed painted one of his characteristic murals on an architecturally-uninspiring post-war block of flats, Arbury Court. Intended to be there for only three months, such was its reception that it will now stay in place until 2020, and, with luck, perhaps beyond that. Which shows that public art – and street art – can be transformational!
In Mayfair, with Mercedes, Bentleys and other cars in the street outside, eL Seed has taken over the LazInc Gallery with his exhibition ‘Tabula Rasa’. What, you might ask, is ‘Tabula Rasa’? It’s a name that has been stolen by films and music groups but the original meaning was that we humans are born with our brains being an empty canvas, ready to be shaped by experience, knowledge and everyday life.
el Seed takes traditional Arabic calligraphy and twists and turns it into something in which the words disappear as he focuses on the geometry of the curves and the patterns of the letters with a clear aim to build bridges between different nationalities, religions and cultures. These are artworks which are as much about philosophy and thought as about aesthetics.
There is one small three dimensional work around which the paintings on the gallery walls rotate. It would have been good to have had more of these sculptural curving works, to reflect his recent work in, for example Dubai.
‘I truly believe that art is a way to open dialogue. I like to think that my artwork can cut through the boundaries that we place between ourselves, between ourselves; whether physical, cultural or linguistic.’ (el Seed)