SHAAN SYED – BENDING THE BOUNDARIES

Native Torontonian, London-based artist Shaan Syed's work is firmly cemented in painting, in such a bold and distinct style that his large scale oil on canvases beg you to come hither and nearer. In his current solo exhibition at Michael Janssen Berlin, Syed's use of vivid intersecting strips of colour and crisp transparent layering borne out of black bands of foundational separation, Syed's 'stage' paintings are like a convergence of urgent orders and bright lights broadcasted loud and clear and are - much like an S.O.S. - impossible to ignore. The artist even asked us to publish his answers in all CAPS and with each sentence ending in an exclamation point! Alongside the four stage paintings featured in the show, two monochrome paintings are also on view, separated by a declining wall running diagonally through the room. “The collapsed monochromes were an act of opposition in the studio against all the taping, planning and construction I was involved with while making the Stage Paintings. It became necessary to uncover an absence in response to setting up a proposition for one”, says Syed. Lodown peeled Shaan away from his drawing board in late October to discuss funny shapes, the idea of capital, and what is at the heart of his painting.


Shaan, I recently visited your show, CAPITAL!, at Michael Janssen Gallery for the second time. I was curious, what do you find the most pleasing aspect of working with such colours and textures?


HELLO!  PAINTING IS COLOUR AND TEXTURE, AND PRESENTS MANY PROBLEMS WITHIN A PREDETERMINED STRUCTURE!  I LIKE PAINTING AND I LIKE FIGURING OUT HOW TO BREAK RULES!


Your works present a beautiful composition of layers. What is your process of combining them?


THANK YOU!  THE COMPOSITIONS ARE WORKED OUT MOSTLY IN ADVANCE, AND THEN I PAINT THEM!  I LOOKED AT THINGS LIKE FLAGS AND SPORTS AND LOGOS AND LIGHT SHOWS FOR IDEAS!


Could you please share what you were doing when you thought of the idea for this show and how did you come up with the name CAPITAL!?


YES!  I WAS IN MY STUDIO, PAINTING!  I AM USUALLY PAINTING!  CAPITAL IS A GEOGRAPHIC POLITICAL CENTRE!  CAPITAL IS ACCUMULATED WEALTH!  CAPITAL IS ALL-CAPS!










































What themes were you playing around with during the creative process?


I WAS PLAYING WITH THE THEME OF THE STAGE!  THE PAINTINGS ARE CALLED STAGE PAINTINGS!  WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER I WAS SO CLOSE TO A STAGE AT A STADIUM ROCK CONCERT THAT I COULDN’T SEE THE SHOW!  AT FIRST I PANICKED!  I COULDN’T SEE MY HERO!  BUT THEN IT DIDN’T MATTER!  I WAS STILL AT THE CENTRE OF “IT”!  THIS IS A SIMILAR EXPERIENCE TO PAINTING!  THE STAGE PAINTINGS WERE VERY SLOW AND BORING TO MAKE!  I WAS FRUSTRATED AND WANTED TO PROTEST!  SO I MADE SOME MONOCHROMES AND COLLAPSED THEM!  THEY WERE VERY FAST TO MAKE!


How does CAPITAL!, alongside what you are doing now, play an essential role in the story you are weaving as an artist?


“CAPITAL!” PROPOSES AN EXCHANGE OF DIFFERENCE!


In your past works, there's a reoccurrence of waves or ripply lines with sharp angles spliced through these or curved juxtapositions complimenting the form. At what point did you depart from in making these works?


I AM CONTINUING TO MAKE THESE PAINTINGS WITH THIS FUNNY SHAPE!  WITH “CAPITAL!” I REVISITED MY FIRST STAGE PAINTINGS THAT I BEGUN IN 2006!  I WANTED TO BRING SOMETHING NEW TO THEM!  BUT NOW I AM MAKING OTHER PAINTINGS!










































Just to quickly touch on your show, One Minus One, at Ana Cristea Gallery earlier this year… you make some powerful statements with the 'Freedom to Starve', 'Eggs Bacon Beans Chips Burger', 'The Cost of Living', and 'Sport Leisure War' screen prints. They communicate so much complexity in their simplicity and urge the viewer to dig deeper. Is this something you aim to achieve with all of your artworks?


THANK YOU!  YES!  THE TEXT WORKS REPRESENT A SPIRIT WITH WHICH I MAKE MY PAINTINGS!


What is a typical day for you?


WAKE UP!  CHECK EMAILS AND SOCIAL MEDIA!  PLAY WITH CAT!  MAYBE SEE MY ANALYST!  CYCLE TO MY STUDIO!  PAINT!


Initially you moved to London to complete your masters at Goldsmiths, if I'm not mistaken. Hi-5 by the way! What about the city has kept you there since?


THANK YOU!  YES, LONDON PRESENTS A CHALLENGE, IF YOU WANT IT!


What is your studio set-up like?


I WORK ON LOTS OF PAINTINGS AT THE SAME TIME!  I HAVE A GREAT SOUND SYSTEM!


Could you tell us more about your solo exhibition at the Kunsthalle Winterthur in Switzerland coming up next year?


YES!  IT OPENS SEPT 2015!  PLEASE COME AND BRING LOTS OF PEOPLE!  I MAY DO SOME SCULPTURE!  MAYBE A MURAL!  I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO WORKING WITH THE CURATOR OLIVER KIELMAYER!


And finally, what else is up next for Shaan Syed? What other projects do you have bubbling in the cauldron at the moment?


I AM A “100 PAINTER OF TOMORROW”!  IT’S A BOOK PUBLISHED BY THAMES AND HUDSON!  IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS I PRESENT A SOLO BOOTH WITH ANA CRISTEA GALLERY AT UNTITLED ART FAIR IN MIAMI!  WE WILL SHOW SOME NEW WORK ALSO AT ART LA IN JANUARY!  PATRICK DE BROCK GALLERY WILL BE SHOWING SOME NEW WORK TOO AT ART BRUSSELS IN APRIL!  AFTER THAT MY PLAN IS TO FOCUS ON THE SHOW AT KUNSTHALLE WINTERTHUR!



FRIENDS

NEWS
NAN GOLDIN - Berlin Work 1984 - 2009
CORY ARCANGEL - Here Comes Everybody
STEPHEN SHORE - Uncommon Places
 

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Text + Interview: Yasmin Martinelli | Photos: Courtesy of Galerie Michael Jansen