Supreme's Sean Pablo makes art in tribute to New York's underground

'A Season in Hell' offers viewers a chance to step into the pro-skateboarder’s world.

by Paige Silveria
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12 July 2022, 8:58am

Initially coming to prominence back in 2014 with his debut in Supreme’s first-ever skate video, “cherry,” at the young age of 16, Sean Pablo has since collected many other accolades. He’s been added to the skating teams of Supreme, Converse and Jason Dill’s Fucking Awesome; grown his own clothing brand, Paradise NYC, with his father Brendan, which is sold at spots like Dover Street Market and MR PORTER; and he’s been declared a heartthrob by famous friends like Chloë Sevigny. Now, Sean can add a solo art exhibition in New York City to the list.

Paradise NYC’s Instagram account, with its 90s, lo-fi aesthetic, is a platform for Pablo to explore and present what he’s into. Similarly, A Season in Hell recreates that world IRL. Walking into the large unfinished Chinatown loft that is CC Projects, you feel like you’re entering a scene from Richard Hell’s cult film Smithereens. The long walls are covered in graffiti and plastered with an array of ephemera and hundreds of candid photographs that feature friends of the artist. Random pieces of furniture and guitars line the floor next to TVs looping Paradise NYC’s promotional videos. There’s also a massive collage of prison drawings pulled from his dad’s personal collection.

spray painted walls and artwork at sean pablo's chinatown exhibition

The show seems like a long-time coming. Growing up in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Echo Park, not only was Sean a naturally talented skater, but he also took to art and music. He was even featured in Billboard Magazine performing on stage with Patti Smith at age 10, after attending a music camp owned by Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Flea. Once signed as a pro-skater, it was difficult for Sean to make regular attendance at school. So he convinced his parents to let him be homeschooled for the second half of high school, where he focused on computer science, philosophy and art. Looking around A Season in Hell, guests can definitely glean these myriad influences and how they’ve shaped his vision.

nude artwork and prison drawings taped up on the wall

I just saw the show. I really loved it. But I have to ask, is it an homage to your friend Isaac (Soloway)? Pretty much.

**Why’s that?
**I don’t know. He’s the man. I’ve known him since I was in ninth grade. I’m 24 now. So like 10 years, at least. He’s a good subject. He’s like a celebrity. He is a celebrity.

**Your dad homeschooled you at the end of high school. What was that like?
**He had a job where he could work from home, so it kind of made sense. He’s obviously a pretty smart dude. It was a pretty loose curriculum and there wasn’t much pressure. I had to show up for class every morning at 8am for like two years. It was just me and him going to Starbucks to work together. I was mostly reading and we’d do some stuff on the computer. Then we’d go home. I’d read pretty much whatever I wanted. There’s all kinds of online courses you can take and we signed up for a few different ones — computer science, philosophy. We’d watch these videos. It was really easy. I didn’t think I was going to really excel in regular high school.

photos and an old tshirt collaged on a wall
quotes written on a wall in sharpie and artwork at sean pablo's exhibition in nyc

Why’d your parents take you out? 
I was just skating and not really going along with school. I asked my parents if I could do homeschooling. I had to convince my mom to let me do it. It took some time. Looking back I wish I could have gone to another school and planned it out. It’s kind of a lesson – you shouldn’t let your kids tell you what they want. I guess I was just stubborn. I didn’t get a high school diploma.

**Well from learning about your interests in pursuing visual art, music, filmmaking, these things don’t necessarily require a degree — especially considering what you probably glean from the creative people you’re surrounding yourself with now.
**Yeah you can learn a lot along the way. It’s like a trial and error, process. Or you can go to school and learn how to do things properly. Or you can strike gold and it could change how you make art!

a tv playing a band performance and a broken skateboard in a corner

Tell me more about the show. I don’t really know. I just showed the gallery owners my photos and we started talking about it. All of the photos we printed, but most of it was stuff I already had. They basically cleared out my apartment. All that prison work is my dad’s that he’s been collecting.

I kind of just thought it’d be a photography show. It sounds so weird to call it an art show. I would have been happy to work with anything they gave me, so it was nice to give me so much freedom.

What are your plans for the future? I have a lot of stuff I want to do. But no solid plans. Just working in New York for Supreme. I have a broken leg and my apartment is four stories, so I’m staying with a friend for now and I don’t have any of my shit. I think I just want to go on a road trip and get inspiration. I don’t have a driver’s license. I need to get one of those… And I have to get my leg back.

‘A Season in Hell’ is on view at CC Projects through July 17.

photos taped up on the wall of sean pablo's nyc art exhibit
sean pablo's art exhbit
a tshirt with a photo that says a season in hell pinned up on the wall
artwork and grafitti on the walls at sean pablo's art exhibit
pillows collaged with photos sitting on a wooden chair
Tagged:
New York
Photography
skating
supreme