When we sat down with Vaughn Spann this past winter for a print feature in our Spring 2019 issue, he was in a rising star moment: solo shows, massive Art Basel coverage and international recognition coming from peers and curators alike. The great run continues, as the New Haven, CT-based painter has caught the eye of Takashi Murakami and kicked off the Tokyo exhibition season with Scorched Earth and The Weeping Sun on view at Kaikai Kiki Gallery through September 21, 2019.

Talking about his work, we love this observation from Spann: "My practice is a bit conceptual, and it oscillates between figuration and abstraction, because I'm interested in these stylistic separations and distinct breaks. As artists, we're human. We have complicated ideas about everything. And I feel it would be a disservice to limit those ideas to one framework."

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In Scorched Earth, you see mostly Spann's abstraction work, focusing on the way materials can play a major role in the way figures and shapes take form on a canvas. And Spann is looking heavily at the balance of how is abstraction can create its own narrative. "The sun is one of the greatest natural commonalities humans have with one another. We share it with everyone across the globe. Its radiance and warmth lets you know youre alive. The sun meets you when awake and it sets at your death. I really wanted to focus on the symbiotic relationship humans have with nature during a time when we are all collectively experiencing an acute state of inhumanity… The world is in perpetual rot, global warming, natural disasters, mass terrorism, and corrupt governments… the earth is on fire and the sun is crying."

All images Kaikai Kiki Gallery, 2019