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‘Legacy’ A Solo Exhibition By Tristan Eaton At Subliminal Projects



Tristan Eaton’s new exhibit was opening at Shepard Fairey’s Subliminal Projects on Saturday night, and if I know very little about this world of new artists who have emerged from the streets (Eaton’s powerful, hyper-color murals can be seen in over 13 countries worldwide), I am always ready for a new experience. The line was very long to get in – I must have been waiting for more than one hour before entering the place – but this is a great feeling, Los Angelinos are enthusiastic about art!And the wait was worth it, Eaton’s large multicolor multimedia paintings are impressive, they are jumping at your face like delicious and baroque Sunday ice creams you want to eat at once, although they are way too big for your small mouth.

Eaton describes Legacy as ‘a tribute, an abstract family portrait and a kind of love letter to my favorite people’, and it is sure dense, elaborated, layered and crowded with a trillion of references, borrowing from many domains and genres… this exhibit is very personal because, even after standing in front of one of the paintings for several minutes, it was impossible for me to get all the stories, people, characters intertwined in just one setting. But it didn’t matter, because only the experience mattered… ‘The people that came before me made me who I am,’ he said in an interview with Mass Appeal, ‘and I intend to pass along their stories and strengths by creating this ‘time-capsule’ of an exhibition that honors their legacy and preserves their stories forever.’

Watching these large portraits made of intricate details from famous persona to cartoon characters, graffiti, billboard announcements, giant letterings I found myself a bit perplex, wondering about Eaton’s complex vision, which looked vintage and nostalgic but also very modern and creative at the same time… With something borrowed from these large-letter cards from the 50’s, each portrait becomes an epic collage, a giant ad for someone’s life, that only a mad genius could have put together in such a convoluted way.

Eaton said he used ‘a combination of silk-screen, spray paint, acrylic and brush work to get an acceptable canvas translation of my mural aesthetic,’ and the work swarms with details… it’s as if each person represented becomes a labyrinthine mosaic of his or her own life, and Eaton sees each of his paintings as ‘a visual equivalent of channel surfing inside a painted portrait’… ‘the paintings are somewhat like what I see in my mind when I think about the person I’m painting. It’s not just their face. It’s where they live, what they say, their possessions, how they make you feel, all mashed up together’.

And since many of these people were members of his family, the show ‘is a tribute, an abstract family portrait, and a kind of love letter to my favorite people’… ‘It’s so important to pass on the legacy of those you love to your children and grand children but also to the whole world. The sharing of human stories is an ancient tradition that bonds us closer together as people. As a result, we understand each other more deeply and become stronger better people when the context of our legacy is clear. The people that came before me made me who I am, and I intend to pass along their stories and strengths by creating this ‘time-capsule’ of an exhibition that honors their legacy and preserves their stories for generations to come.’

It is certain that each meticulously arranged detail and pattern has a profound meaning, each element is part of the portrayed person’s life story, and even though much of it stays mysterious to an outsider like me, it leaves a strong impression.

Eaton designed toys for Fisher Price when he was just a teenager and his designs for Kidrobot were included in the MOMA Permanent Collection. He also started the popular Creative Agency Thunderdog which consulted such clients as Nike, Barack Obama and Rockstar Games. He also created the notorious guerrilla art group TrustoCorp and he is one of the most in demand muralists on the planet.

You have to hurry up since ‘Legacy’ will only be on view at Subliminal Projects (1331 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA) from Saturday, November 7th to Saturday, November 14th, and if you want to know more about Tristan Eaton, this is a good introduction:


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More pictures of the exhibit here.

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