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Hampton muralist Dathan Kane makes his abstract mark around Virginia

Artist Dathan Kane paints a school bus as part of a project in 2022.
Photo by Kenny Hopkins
Artist Dathan Kane paints a school bus as part of a project in 2022.

Hampton native Dathan Kane has shown his trademark black-and-white abstract murals across the state.

Driving around Hampton Roads and Richmond, black and white murals with various abstract shapes take over the sides of buildings.

It’s the work of Hampton resident, Dathan Kane, whose profile has exploded across Virginia.

A graduate of Virginia State University, the 33-year-old started working as a portrait painter. He turned to abstract work to evoke emotion.

His inspiration for his current work came after he attended Art Basel in Miami Beach, Fla.

The art show draws over 90,000 people and nearly 300 art galleries representatives worldwide purchase art.

“It really opened my eyes about what I could do with my art. There were artists there I studied for many years,” he said.

One of his first murals, “Lift Up,” is on the outside of the Contemporary Arts Network (CAN) building in Newport News. CAN opened during the pandemic so Kane wanted to show a message of hope.

A mural in Downtown Hampton is one of his largest. Titled “Next Door,” it wraps fully around the building.

Kane also did a mural project for White Claw seltzer and vodka during Pharrell Williams’ Something in the Water Festival in 2023. For that project, he did something different.

“I wanted to speak to the brand and speak about the water,” he said.

When he started that work, Kane provided multiple sketches to review with company representatives.

The end result was a mural of black and white circles, almost like yin and yang, that flow around each other on the side of an Oceanfront apartment complex.

Kane works strictly in black and white because it represents both positive and negative aspects of life, he said.

“It’s how I respond to them, like a guide for me. The shapes are inspired by that balance,” Kane said.

He wants to show a bold expression of the balance between good times and bad times. By not using other colors, the viewer questions why and brings them in. The shapes represent the continuous parts of life, he said.

“The overlapping shapes represent balance. One doesn’t exist without the other. It’s the negative experiences in life that create the positive ones,” he added.

In addition to painting murals on buildings, Kane has displayed his work on large vehicles and even a piano.

Currently, he has a solo show, World of Shapes, Part 2, at the CAN offsite gallery in Newport News’ City Center.

The exhibition is a fully immersive multimedia exhibition that includes murals, paintings, large scale sculptures and film.

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