During the pandemic, a few new artists began to spring up around the city, but one in particular caught my eye. I first came across Eyeantic’s work at a Bushwick show curated by Morbid Gold, my attention transfixed by the mesmerizing gaze of her namesake icon, a delicately painted blue and red iris. I didn’t meet the artist that night, but later on my walk home, I caught a tag with a similarly stylized eye. I wondered if there was a connection between the piece in the show and the throwie on the street. The mystery intrigued me, but as I later learned, mystery is a defining element of the artist’s aesthetic.
Eyeantic, who goes by EyeC, has been steadily growing her presence in the art world with her dynamic, bright-colored paintings. The primary colors first drew her in during a collegiate printmaking class when she was experimenting with a tricolor print. “I just couldn’t get away from those colors,” she said. They also took form in her sketches, through which she displays an incredible knack for shading. “I felt like instead of using conventional skin tones, I’d rather just paint a red lady,” she said.
For EyeC, the red and blue’s metaphysical meaning to them is as important as their artistic merit. “If you dive into it deeper, red and blue are the twin flames of life,” she said. “They keep each other balanced. They’re two different entities that are very powerful when together.” Regarding Twin Flames, her understanding of the concept is more about a philosophical sense of symmetry & duality, than a soul-mate. Born in Russia, EyeC moved to South Brooklyn when she was six. The lush reds and blues that glow upon her canvas are reflective of her dual homes, with the colors paying homage to her roots.
In her view of the world, red and blue form a powerful dichotomy, visible in various manifestations such as fire and ice. Or in more contemporary terms, the respective symbols of the warring factions in the culture wars, an issue that became even more prominent to her while witnessing the partisan politics unfold during the pandemic.
Eyeantic had created her art-moniker when she was a teen, but it was during that apocalyptic season that she took it to the streets, although like her name, her artistic journey traces back longer.
Eyeantic had created her art-moniker when she was a teen, but it was during that apocalyptic season that she took it to the streets, although like her name, her artistic journey traces back longer. “I’ve been drawing eyes since childhood,” EyeC explained, when asked why it became her signature motif. “I realized that instead of trying to master every part of the body, I needed to choose a focus and evolve with that.” Often said to be the window to the soul, her affinity also became a mantra for mastering her sense of shyness. “When I paint the eyes, I’m looking at them and I’m in control.”
Before her art career, EyeC was a pre-med student with the intent of becoming a dermatologist. “I wanted to help people see themselves differently, since I always had skin problems.” In med school, she realized that this desire to help others with how they’re seen was manifesting more effectively in her other passion: visual art. “I was putting 90% of the effort into this art class and 10% into the others,” she explained. “So I had to re-evaluate what I was putting my time into.”
In those pre-pandemic years, she found herself conflicted on her future. On a whim, she decided to take a trip abroad, to Turkey and Russia. The experience was her first adult vacation, where she had the freedom to explore and discover what It was that her heart was after. Upon returning home, she dropped out of med school and doubled down on her artistic initiative.
The pandemic in turn, also shaped her burgeoning artistic career. EyeC was one of the artist’s working to beautify the city, when every store was boarded up and covered in plywood. Finding a silver lining in amidst the chaos, and embracing the street art ethos of I’ll do it my way, she took to the streets, using the wooden barricades as her canvas. “Nobody invited me, I just took all my spray paint on the subway from Brooklyn and decided, I’m doing this.” The tumult of that time allowed for a creative new freedom, and her work during 2020 would earn her a recognition in both the fine & street art worlds.
In the beginning, her relationship with graffiti was independent of her artistic aspirations. The artist explained, “In my neighborhood, there wasn’t much graffiti there. So, it’s not like I was in the culture. I was just doing my thing to find my own release, it was a way to deal with issues at home.”
For EyeC, getting up in the streets is part of her DNA and a means of expression. I learned there was indeed a connection between the eye’s I saw on gallery walls and the streets. Beyond her canvas work, EyeC strikes out into the night; spray cans in hand, painting eyes that gaze out upon the world. In the beginning, her relationship with graffiti was independent of her artistic aspirations. The artist explained, “In my neighborhood, there wasn’t much graffiti there. So, it’s not like I was in the culture. I was just doing my thing to find my own release, it was a way to deal with issues at home.” She started hitting the walls of New York a decade ago, in the prime of teenage rebellion. Reflecting on those early days, she said with a smirk, “I was kind of reckless with it. I was just doing my thing and I didn’t care how it looked. I even practiced on my own wall with spray paint, and mom came home and was not happy.”
One of the things that draws EyeC to graffiti is the mystery behind it. She explained, “I saw art all over the walls in Russia. I was always wondering, who are these people and why did they do this? I love the curiosity of it.” She continued, “Sometimes you gotta go back to your roots to help you find your destination.”
For the most part, the artist has kept her street art and graffiti sides separate, for both legal and creative reasons. “My fine artwork is more elaborate, but graff is my way of sending an instant message. I see you, I love you, get to work… We all want to be understood and appreciated or recognized in what we do in some way or form or another. With graffiti, it’s more about the release.“ When I asked her about the split between her creative endeavors, and how traverses them separately, she gave a cryptic reply. “It’s a reflection of my personality because I’m never sure about anything. I just take it how it goes. So, it’s like my answer is always yes and no because there’s always a yes or no. It’s always above and below.”
“My fine artwork is more elaborate, but graff is my way of sending an instant message. I see you, I love you, get to work… We all want to be understood and appreciated or recognized in what we do in some way or form or another.”
Though not necessarily deliberate, EyeC’s penchant for talking in a rhythmic cadence derives from other creative outlet: poetry. As a wordsmith by trade, it was the elusive verses she wrote in her stories and Instagram captions that truly captivated my attention. Like her visual art, EyeC’s lyricism often plays with dualities; truth and lies, the hidden and the revealed, pleasure and pain, self-reflection and self-destruction. One piece of her work, a gently shaded red eye with tears running down the circular canvas, was posted to Instagram with the caption You could be your own worst enemy or greatest friend, the choice is yours. Make it count.
Like her visual art, EyeC’s lyricism often plays with dualities; truth and lies, the hidden and the revealed, pleasure and pain, self-reflection and self-destruction.
A resonant element of Eyeantic, and part of the allure of her social media mystique, is her attitude of being content as a loner. “I don’t really rely on anyone for help,” she said. “But I know I wasn’t born alone and I know I won’t die alone, because we’re all inter-connected.” Her penchant for introversion lends itself to her poetry, though she credits her primary muses to be music and emotion.
“Writing can be an escape for me,” she explained, noting her use of Instagram as a sort-of visual diary, combining her mediums. Like her art, writing has been a lifelong passion, but recent years gave her creative voice renewed resonance. “During the pandemic, I’d feel like I was going crazy talking or singing to myself, and I decided to just write things down when they came to me.” While all her poetry speaks from the heart, reading her words will leave you with more questions than answers. Though as her talent gains renown, and her artistic vocation flourishes, she has grown more comfortable revealing herself.
Since EyeC’s foray into professional art in 2019, she has been featured in over 30 shows, a testament to her New York hustle. Her first exhibition was with ‘Artist of Today,’ a ticketed event by Ceres which required artists to sell their share. Despite initial concern she couldn’t move the tickets, (“I didn’t even have 20 friends to invite!”) she found the motivation and managed to sell out all of her vouchers. From there, the scope of shows she’s been in have varied, from Morbid Gold’s Bushwick events, to an all-female graff writer show curated by MIA at the infamous tattoo shop INKED NYC. Most recently, she was a featured guest at the SoHo Renaissance Factory residency with Chashama.
In an Instagram caption from summer 2021, she wrote: Can you tell I love this shit? Like truely, eye do. Eye like to hear about all the things you see, that I haven’t. Or how I made you feel. I know I radiate the love I have for this, and I know you feel it.
EyeC’s ambition is matched by her dedication to the craft. She continues to push her work in new directions (as evidenced by a recent animation she made, featuring an eye ticking like a clock) and new heights (like a multistory wall at the Museum of Urban Arts and painting at Art Basel.) Her love for creation bleeds through the words of her poetry and drips down the canvas in red tears. On when she’s happiest, the artist told me, “I like to paint outside alone, because it gives me a chance to just think ‘Wow, I’m alive right now, the sun is so beautiful, and this eye I painted is looking back at me.’”
While her eponymous eyes are her most recognizable work, accentuated by her taste for the dualistic twin colors, the artist display’s an incredible talent for creating that can’t bound neatly under one label. Perhaps as passion continues to evolve, she will focus more on the finesse of street art than the release of graffiti. Or perhaps, she’ll explore more of her poetic inclinations, maybe she’ll even put together a book. The future is uncertain, but the mystery is where the fun lies. One thing I’m sure of, with Eyeantic there is more than meets the eye.
If you’re in NYC this week, also be sure to check out Eyeantic’s dual exhibition with fellow UP mag alumni Calicho, at our lower east partner Sour Mouse! The show opens at 7pm July 15th. Here’s a sneak peak of one of Eyeantic’s new works that will be featured in the show