Born in 1971 in South London, Remi Morgan aka Remi/Rough has been breaking aesthetic boundaries for a quarter century. Transcending the traditional image of a graffiti writer, Remi is passionate and unforgiving about his creative progression over the years. Throughout the eighties he had a role in supporting the evolution of the UK graffiti art scene, and then in the nineties, he became part of the Abstract Graffiti movement, as embodied in the UK by the Ikonoklast Movement crew, with Juice126 and Part2ism.
In 2008, Remi was invited to speak in front of a sell-out auditorium at the Tate Modern, as part of its massive Street Art exhibition. In 2009, Remi and The Agents of Change (including Timid, System, Stormie Mills, Juice 126, and Derm) were given free reign to paint in an abandoned 1970s village dubbed The Ghost Village. This year with some other members of AOC, including Augustine Kofie and Steve More, Remi painted the largest mural ever accomplished in London on the Megaro hotel. He has also worked as a visual consultant for many large clients, such as Red Bull and Nike.
Remi/Rough has been making images for more than a quarter of a century. His art began on public walls and trains in South London in 1984. A respected train writer, Remi has played a significant part in the development of Abstract Graffiti, a term that seems far too clinical to describe the accomplishments of his work, which has always been about the interplay of colour and shape.
His colour palette is worked out through deceptively simple arrangements of lines and angles that bring colours into unexpected encounters with each other. Much of this has been done on canvasses large and small, bringing the movement and style of train writing, condensed to its essential ingredients of line and colour, into the space of the gallery. Remi has also been re-imagining public spaces, whether in an abandoned Ghost Village in Scotland, or on the exterior of the Megaro Hotel in the center of London.
While Remi’s art has always been about creating dimension within the depths of a canvas or a wall, his new works have taken that idea in an exciting new direction, by transforming a three dimensional object through the application of paint or by extracting complex shapes from the flat canvas into sculptural forms. The interplay of line and colour on Remi’s canvasses speak to his fascination with artists such as Kazimir Malevich; these new works point to a dialogue with shape and space, following sculptors such as Richard Serra. And to me that makes perfect sense, for who is better placed to understand the interplay of colour, form and line than an artist with the kind of history that shapes Remi’s work – a history that begins with the trains moving through the city, and that weaves together gallery, graffiti and the architecture of the city.
When we look at Remi’s images today, we think about the spaces around us, whether in a gallery or a city street, and we lose ourselves in the sheer pleasure that he offers us through the geometry of colour.
2012: Marvelous Expeditions, ThinkSpace, LA; How To Use Colour And Influence People, Unit 44 Gallery, Newcastle, UK; Unlucky For Some, Recoat Gallery, Glasgow, Scotland; Space//Form, Breeze Block Gallery, Portland, OR, USA; 2011: Archetypes, View Art Gallery, Bristol; Selected Moments (with Stormie Mills), Unit44 Gallery, Newcastle, UK; Unintended Calculations, Becker Galleries, Vancouver; Abstract Graffiti (book), Cedar Lewisohn, Merrel. 2010: Underbelly Project, Abandoned Subway Station, New York City; No Beginning No End (with Jaybo Monk), Galeria Nuble, Santander, Spain; Graffiti Gone Global, Primary Flight, Art Basel Miami; Never A Dull Moment, White Walls Gallery, San Francisco. 2009: Lost Colours and Alibis, Urban Angel Gallery, London; The Ghost Village Project, Pol Gaijin No Bijinga (with System), Galeria Nuble, Santander, Spain. 2008: Coded Language, Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen. 2007: Repetition, Rhythm & Rough, Nancy Victor Gallery, London. 2005: Unsettle Content, Best, London. 2004: Graffiti World (book), Nicholas Ganz, Thames & Hudson. 2001: Rigidmouth (with Timid), Chamber of Pop Culture, London.
Sources: Information and texts compiled by Daniel Feral from an artists statement (issuu.com/remirough); the How To Use Color and Manipulate People exhibition statement and catalogue, including the forward by Professor Alison Young; and the Selected Paintings From 2008-2011 catalogue.