UK Hip Hop: Artists & Discographies
Seen :: Graffiti




The Outside Institute, a new gallery in Paddington, West London has been set up to showcase artists embracing the urban environment as a creative medium, and promote the urban art movement, hailed as most compelling and daring to emerge in recent years.

The much anticipated inaugural show, exhibited the work of one of the most inspirational and respected graffiti artists of all time, Seen. Known as the ‘godfather of graffiti’ Seen was showing in the UK for the first time, exclusively at the Outside Institute, from the 1st April to 8th May 2005.

Bronx born Seen, part of the United Artists group, made his name as one of the most prolific graffiti artists of the New York subway cars in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He has mentored countless young protégé over many years, and continues to be hailed as the ‘King’ of the art form. Seen also appeared in the seminal graffiti and hip hop film Style Wars, which celebrates it’s 21st Anniversary this year and was screened alongside the exhibition, although in a rather disappointing way, simply projected onto the wall in the corner. What I didn't know until recently that Seen was also painting as Richie and Psyko and if you had ever leafed through the pages of seminal Hip Hop publication Subway Art you would have seen many of Seen's works as they were liberally spread throughout Chalfont's book. The photographed pieces included the world famous Hand Of Doom and if you check out Seen's personal website you can peep some of these pix and the crazy stories behind them, including an occasion when the anti-graf police commissioned him to do a full car for their colleagues!!! Go figure. Back in these days, if undisturbed Seen as said that he was capable of painting three full cars or more in one session over one night. This is how he was able to be so prolific.


The Outside Institute has been founded by one of London’s most sought after urban artists D*face. The 2,000 square foot space has been designed to allow urban artists to exhibit their works in an easy-going, stylish environment.

An exclusive private view of the Seen exhibition took take place at the Outside Institute on the 31st March, and was comprised of canvasses under the sub heading 'The End Of An Era' which symbolised his turning a new chapter in his career. Many of the larger canvasses were mocked up to appear as if painted on a New York subway train, and not that I begrudge Seen his earnings some of the canvasses were really expensive, the really small ones of which there were 60 were £110 and as the size increased so did the price, ranging from just under £500 for the Mass Transit 1978-89 series right up to £17,000 for the Andy Warhol type full wall set of panels Post No Bills, still if I was a banker I would have shelled out on the lot for sure. The medium sized canvasses were a variety of 'S's as Seen worked through a stylistic theme. Also during the exhibition was a screening of Style Wars with original artwork from the film.

The private view was attended by Seen and other big names from the art world. Seen himself was mobbed by hundreds of adoring fans who all had their battered copies of Subway Art with them to be signed. Some were simply stroking him as if in awe in his presence. I would have taken my copy to be signed too had it not been stolen off me some time ago. Poetic justice I guess as it was racked in the first place.

When first contacted about having an exhibition in London Seen thought it was an opportunity to bring the essence of true old school NYC subway graffiti to the UK. His goal was to capture the styles, colour schemes, textures and overall rawness in all of graffiti's developmental stages and make the viewer feel as if they were standing right there in the train yards. Seen states that nearly two decades have passed since a NYC train actively ran with graffiti on its surface. The city officials have been able to maintain control of the transit system putting an end to a remarkable era. Seen's intention was to bring it back through this work.

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