Arik Roper
High On Fire, watercolor, inks, gouache, Arik Roper, 2009
Flamingos, watercolor-inks-gouache, Arik Roper, 2013
left: High On Fire, 2009 | right: Flamingos, 2013

Date: 09.04 — 10.05

Opening reception
10 April
19:00 – 21:00
in the presence of
the artist

A SEA Foundation
production in collaboration
with Roadburn festival 2015

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Brilliant Shadows

This year marks the fifth alliance between the Roadburn Festival and the SEA Foundation. The two join together once again in order to present a solo exhibition for the work of Arik Roper (1976, lives and works in New York), the graphic artist who provides the heavy music underground with its characteristic and otherworldly visual style. Brilliant Shadows, compiles 25 original watercolour works supplemented by unique ink sketches.

Brilliant Shadows is an exclusive and first European solo show for Roper, who is known for his lone figures, unfolding landscapes, deep colours and rich aesthetic. Examples of his work can be found in MTV animations, magazines such as Arthur Magazine and Revolver, copious vinyland CD covers, as well as film and event posters.

Roper’s work breathes pure passion for drawing and painting and radiates intensity, executed with technical perfection and astounding, engrossing detail. By combining watercolour with gouache, Roper masterfully creates scenic depth in his work and this has made him influential the world over. He convincingly visualises fantasy worlds in a credible idyllic setting. The images radiate a grand, colourful splendour, exceptionally vivid in portraying psychedelic visions, sages or prophetic dreams. His ability to illustrate stories filled with mythical animals and creatures in a striking, energetic setting entices the viewer to imagine themselves in that landscape.

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Arik Roper is the man behind many of Roadburn’s favorite works of album art. Earth’s The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, Sleep’s Dopesmoker, Weedeater’s Jason the Dragon, High on Fire’s Blessed Black Wings: these are just a few striking examples of what Arik is capable of dreaming up and creating. Whether he is working in black and white or rich psychedelic color, Arik Roper’s signature style shines through in everything he does, from lettering to landscapes. The phantasmagorical imagery springs from the depths of a fertile imagination, invoking psychedelic visions, ancient dreams, and idyllic natural environments. With an interest in mythology, consciousness, psychology, religion and other timeless subjects, Roper’s art captures the light and the dark to reveal scenes that somehow manage to seem distantly familiar and even inviting, no matter how strange and otherworldly.

In his poster art created for Roadburn 2015, Roper combines this style with the imagery techniques of German Romanticism, particularly Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840). The technique, Rückenfigur, translates to “back figure,” and typically features a figure in the foreground whose back is to the viewer, looking outward. And since the figure is facing away from the eye, one joins in, contemplating the landscape – or the music – unfolding ahead.

Roper’s visual work not only captures the Roadburn atmosphere, but also its various styles of music, in which one finds apocalyptic visions and monstrous idylls, and wherein mythical figures such as Hades, Eros and Thanatos are constantly finding new guises.

Text: Robert Proost
Translation: Heleen Klomp


The exhibition Brilliant Shadows is accompanied by a catalogue and textbook (ed. 30 signed and numbered)
Design: Jinhee Kwon
Digital published on ISSUU

See publication

Website Arik Roper
Website Roadburn festival 2015

Arik Roper at SEA Foundation. Installation view of exhibition, Brilliant Shadows, at SEA Foundation.
Arik Roper at SEA Foundation. Installation view of exhibition, Brilliant Shadows, at SEA Foundation.
Arik Roper at SEA Foundation. Installation view of exhibition, Brilliant Shadows, at SEA Foundation.