Introducing May’s #SpotlightOn #SELondon Artist Remi, by Marcela Ferreira.
To me, one of the many advantages of living in south east London is the art. There is so much of it around. Whether it’s classic paintings at the Dulwich Picture Gallery or modern exhibitions at South London Gallery, it’s accessible to us all and usually only a few minutes away. And though I enjoy going to the galleries, I find myself being drawn to street art more and more.
That’s how I came across Remi.
Being a fan of geometric shapes and strong colours in art, I was completely drawn in by his work, especially his use of folded forms (which I’ve since learnt is his signature style).
Remi grew up in south east London and has been a big contributor to some of the outdoor art we see around. He was part of the Dulwich Outdoor Gallery – an art project that re-interpreted works by old masters of the Baroque – but also has a number of other murals gracing the streets of south east London.
I am thrilled that Remi agreed to be featured on the South East London Blog and I hope it inspires you to get out there and enjoy his work.
What attracts you to geometric shapes?
Coming from the world of graffiti writing, shapes and forms were always part of my repertoire, I guess now I look more at architecture and design and how those things inform our everyday lives. I often take photos of buildings, angles and things I see on my travels which in turn end up informing the artworks I make. I often think I’m really a frustrated architect. I’d love to design buildings, I just don’t really know how to do it without them falling down.
Which artwork are you most proud of and why?
In 2016 I painted the facade of the Mohammed VI Museum in Rabat, Morocco. I was officially invited by the Royal Palace to paint this prestigious building and I think it still stands as one of my proudest artwork achievements. There’s something amazing about having your work accepted into an institution like that and when I realised it also faced the Palace and the Royal family would see it on a daily basis I was quite chuffed.
What has been a seminal experience in your life?
Possibly meeting a fellow artist and one of my best friends for 30 years Juice 126 in the sleepy seaside town of Bridlington at the World Graffiti Championships back in 1989. He was hugely influential to the directions I took as an artist and played a big role in my transition to a contemporary artist. As I didn’t go the conventional route of art training, people like Juice were the catalysts, teachers and mentors that kept me motivated.
Remi is also a supporter of Pjoys – pjs with purpose – a project about making mental health an everyday conversation, founded by his wife Michelle. And as art is often used as a means to process emotion, it’s great to see artists supporting what is such an important part of our lives – our mental wellbeing.
Tell us about Pjoys. What was the driving force behind your support for the project(helping make mental health an everyday conversation)?
I can’t really take any credit for Pjoys as it’s really the brainchild of my wife Michelle. She had a burnout after running her social responsible marketing agency for over 15 years and became quite sick both mentally and physically. One of the few things that made her happy during this time was a pair of Liberty’s pyjamas that myself and our daughter Lili bought her for Christmas. She was seriously considering a ‘what’s next’ after Livity (her agency), and she knew she wanted to create something that was still purpose led but was an actual product. So she came up with Pjoys, PJs with a purpose that highlight the importance of talking about mental health through the idea of both good and bad PJ days. I’m very proud of everything she has achieved with it and the website officially launched in February 2019 so it’s all go at Pjoys Towers at the moment.
How do you think art can help communities today?
Just having murals and public artworks within a community can really change the perception of an area. What’s not to love about putting colour into the world. It helps people’s mental health and well being, brings smiles to people’s faces and generally adds something fresh to an area. I know you’ll always have the idiots who think it’ll bring the house prices down, but surely that says way more about them than it does about the public numerous artworks which are there to enjoy for absolutely free.
Any (SE London) artists that have caught your eye?
Favourite SE London Spot
One of my favourite places to eat is Miss Tapas! I also love Levan for a special night out. Our little General store on Bellenden Road is one of the best places to get coffee and MOCA London is an awesome space that puts on some very interesting exhibitions. I even had a show there myself last year. It’s pretty hard to just choose one spot but as I have Italian roots I’m going to go for Forza Win. But I share the love as much as I can.
Your future plans?
I have recently been to Paris to take part in a group show. I also have some big mural projects coming up in Paris over the summer as well as projects being planned in Jacksonville Florida, New York and Miami. I am also currently in talks with a couple of very lovely London galleries about London representation. As I have representation in France, Switzerland, Germany and Italy it would be nice to do more shows here. I am also working on a huge book of my work from 1985 until now but that probably won’t be done until the end of this year. And lastly, I’ll be putting lots of energy into Pjoys and helping that be as successful as we possibly can.
Who would be your ideal fantasy dinner guests?
I’d have artists; Kasimir Malevich and Bridget Riley, Nigel Slater (who would also be on cooking duties!) Rapper Open Mike Eagle, Kate Bush, Aldous Harding, Russell Kane and my Mum of course…
If you fancy checking out some of Remi’s work locally, just head to The Bishop (East Dulwich) for his collaboration with Augustine Kofie, or walk a little further to Vale End by East Dulwich station for another one of Dulwich Outdoor Gallery’s commission – his interpretation of Nicolas Poussin, ‘The Triumph of David‘ (the mural combines the artist ‘System’ take of Rembrandt’s ‘Girl at a Window). Brock Street in Nunhead has another great collaboration between Remi and local artist Nicky Hirst.
And let’s not forget his work at Peckham Levels which has completely transformed an otherwise uninspiring part of the building and I believe really sets the tone for all the other art around and inside the Levels.
Has anyone spotted any others?