Remi has been a friend and an artist I’ve followed closely for many years, one of the artists putting some fresh energy graffiti with his abstract style, so I was glad that Tim Hans could meet up with Remi Rough at his studio in South London earlier this year and that Rhiannon Platt could interview Remi for our continuing series of portraits by Tim Hans. – RJ
Rhiannon Platt: For those who may not be familiar with your work, when did you start using spray paint?
Remi Rough: I did my first piece in 1984. Paint was different then, as were the styles, techniques and obviously the fan base, which hardly existed at all except in the younger generation.
Most of the artists, paint brands and the pieces themselves don’t even exist anymore.
It’s quite funny to think of something I was part of as a kid being considered historical now!
Rhiannon: And how has your work evolved since then?
Remi: It became a lot simpler. In the late 90’s and early 00’s I stripped back a lot of the chintz in my graffiti pieces and lettering. Colour, background and periphery became unimportant to me. I guess things continued to simplify and become more minimal from there. Now the colour has regained a key importance in my work and the line and shape is just a conveyance for that. As long as I can create a similar tension in my paintings to the graffiti pieces of my youth, then I’m doing something right I think.
Rhiannon: What does abstraction mean to you?
Remi: Abstraction is all about questioning what you see. Graffiti was and still is abstract right from the very beginning. The entire concept of Wildstyle is completely abstract. the fills, the outlines and the backgrounds. Taking basic type forms and abstracting them into a more stylised version of the original product is as about as abstract as it gets.
Abstraction is keeping your feet firmly planted in reality whilst your head is in the clouds of imagination.
Rhiannon: What keeps you going creatively?
Remi: Many things to be honest. Good coffee, amazing people (of which I think I’m lucky to be surrounded by a lot of the time), great art of any kind, good food, my family and most of all I guess I manage to find new challenges for myself on a constant basis.
Rhiannon: What projects are you working on right now?
Remi: I’m off to Detroit in November to work on a very large mural project, which I’m quite excited about as I’ve never been there before. I have also been working on a collaborative show with Shok1 and I have a couple of solo shows booked in for next year already. Lastly I have a new book available next month called #roughsketches it’s a huge book of sketch work dating back from 1996 until now. It marks my evolution into the style I work with now and has a good few hundred outlines in it. There’s only going to be 100 editions tho, plus 25 special editions! It’s my Seventh self published book and I personally think it’s my best one so far…
Photos by Tim Hans