'They're moments of human connection': eL Seed debuts new work in first US solo show

Known for his calligraphic graffiti, the Dubai artist is now bringing the messages of his murals to the canvas

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French-Tunisian artist eL Seed is known for his calligraphic public art that bears messages of humanity and unity. Translating those large-scale projects and the messages they carry on to canvas, he opened his first show in the US on Wednesday at GGA Gallery in Miami.

Titled Collection of Moments, the show features 20 works, including painting and sculpture, that highlight the various public murals that eL Seed has completed over the past 11 years, including the anamorphic work Perception (2016), where he painted 50 buildings in Cairo's so-called 'Garbage City' to spell out a message against prejudice using a quote by Saint Athanasius.

There is also his steel sculpture The Bridge, cast from a poem by Kim Sowol and installed at the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

'I Will Never Be Your Son I' by eL Seed. Courtesy eL Seed studio

eL Seed’s style is characterised by the way he renders calligraphic script into abstract forms, along with his use of vibrant colour. The painting versions of these works echo the colours and styles of the original.

“I am using the messages that I have done on the street on to the canvas, and so I am trying to tell the story of outdoor into an indoor space,” he says.

His phrases are often plucked from poems, the selection of which is tied to the specific geographies where the projects are set up.

“All those messages are relevant to the place where I painted them, but also have universal dimension, so anybody can relate to it. For me, Collection of Moments is, in a way, talking about those amazing experiences I have lived with people from community that I met through those artworks. The ‘moments’ are not moments of art, but more a moment of human connection,” says the artist.

Running for three months, the exhibition has its roots in eL Seed’s first project with the gallery, after he painted a mural at Wynwood Walls, an outdoor art space dedicated to showcasing murals by artists.