eL Seed grew up engulfed in the first wave of hip hop culture in Paris, France. Born of Tunisian parents, from an early age eL Seed fostered strong ties to his motherland. As a young artist, his medium often changed: drawing portraits, calligraphies, and cartoon storyboards, painting on shoes, baseball caps, and t-shirts, and eventually spraying colors on his neighborhood walls. Graffiti lingered as a dormant passion until eL Seed moved to North America: the birthplace of modern Graffiti. It was in this environment that eL Seed’s interests in calligraphy and graffiti collided and fused together. Developing on the proverbial tradition lived by the first Arabic calligraphers, eL Seed chooses to paint a message rather than his name. He understands his identity as being unintentionally politicized and uses this to confront common stereotypes. Breaking the false dichotomy between ‘modernity’ and ‘tradition’ is one such effort. Through the use of graffiti styles and techniques, eL Seed’s calligraphic compositions bring to life what is otherwise perceived in the globalized mainstream as an ‘old’ or ‘dead’ civilization.
Year(s) Awarded: 2011
Related Nexus Stories: