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Steve Keene’s ‘Modular Synthesis’ At Subliminal Projects On Saturday January 16th 2016



As an artist and music lover Shepard Fairey must have been very happy on Saturday night, the walls of his studio were covered with reinterpretations of the most iconic rock-pop-punk-rap albums from floor to ceiling. When I entered Subliminal Projects for Steve Keene’s new exhibit, ‘Modular Synthesis’, I was overwhelmed by the bright colors and profusion of images going through my mind. They were all there, the Beatles, the Beastie Boys, the Ramones, Iggy and the Stooges, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Husker Du, Iron Maiden, Television, Michael Jackson, Patty Smith, Miles Davis, the White Stripes, Metallica, Roxy Music, Eurythmics, Elton John, the Pixies, the Misfits, the Melvins, Motörhead, the Clash, Bob Dylan, Joy Division, Dinosaur Jr… and of course, David Bowie, a lot of David Bowie… You name your favorite album and there are a lot of chances that Steve Keene has repainted it, with bright colors and a thick brush as if he was in a hurry, a hurry to reinterpret hundreds of album art covers, as if he would worry to not have enough time to finish his impossible task.

Keene works quickly and creates multiple versions of paintings, so that he can keep the prices low while making each painting an original. And when I say low, I mean it, as each unique piece was sold at $50 and the number of people lining up to buy a piece or two was impressive, I never saw so many people leaving the studio with an art piece under their arm during the same night.

Beside the album cover interpretations, there were also representations of hip Los Angeles landmarks and neighborhoods, as well as the debut of his Tattooed Plywood pieces – large carved and etched plywood producing ‘images of irreverently titled stacked playing cards and whimsical floral patterns against chain-link fences’.

Of course, the album covers were the most coveted… ‘I love to create environments and where people see my work is a huge part of how they participate,’ said Keene in an interview. ‘I show hundreds, if not thousands of pieces at a time and want people to be completely immersed. Hopefully they get a feel for the way the paintings are hung, because this is a big part of the performance of presenting a gallery show.’

The studio had become such a dense environment and being in the middle of all this, I was absorbed by the walls and all their music memories.It was overwhelming in a very good way, and I had a hard time to leave the place.

Keene has to be one of the most prolific artists alive as he has already produced 300,000 of these, including nearly 80 per day for the last 35 years, ‘Modular Synthesis’ at Subliminal Projects (January 16 – February 13, 2016) is Keene’s first West Coast showing in 5 years, don’t miss it!

More pictures here


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