Beyond the Streets: Nine Minutes with Artist Remi Rough

street art

Remi Rough has just returned from Singapore where he took part in a huge show curated by Parisian Gallerist and writer Magda Danysz, this exhibition brings together some of the biggest names of Street Art to celebrate its rise from counter-cultural beginnings to one of the most explosive contemporary art movements of the 20th century.

After Nyne caught up with the artist to get the low-down on this exciting project and what he’s going to be working on next.

Remi you’ve just come back from Singapore and an extremely exciting exhibition opportunity. What can you tell us about it?

Singapore was an amazing experience. I was asked to create a mural installation inside the ArtScience Museum there as part of a massive exhibition curated by Magda Danysz called ‘Art From The Streets’.
It was an incredible show which charted the shifts and movements of urban art from the train painters of NYC in the 70’s until now. The show is huge and runs until June this year.

It’s quite a mix – a Parisian gallerist, curating an exhibition with artists from all over the world in Singapore; how did you find being involved with something so diverse?

Good question. So Magda opened a pop up gallery a couple of years ago in London and we’d only recently met at another museum show I was part of in Germany. She called me up and asked if I’d like to be involved in the London space and we’ve been working together ever since. The show in Singapore has been travelling around for a while now, it was in Beijing, also in Roubaix in Northern France, which I was part of too, and now Singapore. Magda really wants to take it to either Melbourne or London next.

What did the exhibition teach you that you didn’t already know about street art, and the world of street art?

I’m not sure the show taught me anything really, It opened my eyes to some artists I didn’t know like Speak Cryptic from Singapore and Eko from Indonesia, but I’ve been a part of this movement since I was I 14 so I know a few things already.
One thing I definitely learnt is the amount of meticulous detail that a museum puts into a show like this. There’s an incredible amount of work and people involved to make something on this scale happen.

How do you feel street art has changed in the time you’ve been involved in it?

I think a lot of the people who attached themselves to it have since disappeared and the people who are taking their craft and careers seriously now stand out more then ever… But to be honest my background is from ‘Style Writing’ or ‘Graffiti’. They are different conversations, they just get blocked in the same section in bookshops if you know what I mean. Graffiti art is the only art movement ever created and taken forward by children. Street Art is the cousin twice removed that already had the basis to work from that graffiti had created.

Who do you feel has been leading the field in the street art sector?

There’s far too many names to mention. I think the pioneers are who are important to that movement. John Fekner is quite possibly the most important artist within it and highly underrated and often undermentioned. Keith Haring is only beginning to gain more of a recognition too. Richard Hambleton, Blek Le Rat and Shepard Fairey all broke ground for the new guys to come through but without those pioneers you’d have nothing.

I chaired a panel discussion during Frieze Week on street art and raised the point about commerce and street art. Where do you feel the line is drawn between maintaining integrity and earning a living?

I think this is where lines don’t need to drawn. Art is art. I don’t refer to myself as a street artist or a graffiti artist. I am simply an artist. There’s no differentiation between the work I do on large scale walls or the work I create within my studio. The only differences are the scale and the sense of ownership. The term I actually feel most comfortable with is ‘Post Graffiti’. It says so much more about where I am within my work and the commercialisation of it has been happening since the early 80’s. It moved straight into galleries from the New York subways. It isn’t a new thing. The art world needs a constant influx of new momentum and it just happens that this is current and important. Integrity is gained by making good work, it doesn’t matter a bit if it’s commercially viable or not. Mondrian wasn’t the huge success he is today whilst he was alive, Van Gogh died penniless but just to pick two artists, they made work with absolute integrity and gravitas and subsequently are now legends in the world of art. The art world knows who has integrity and who is just churning crap out to make a few quid… It’s not rocket science.

Did you have a chance to absorb the other artist’s work during the exhibition? Who caught your eye?

As I mentioned Speak Cryptic did some great work. I was also really impressed by Frenchman Tarek Benaoum and his installation, Felipe Pantone from Spain and M City from Poland both did fantastic pieces too. I was actually really honoured and humbled to be a part of something so major.

What reception do you feel the exhibition got?

The opening night was unbelievable… Hundreds of people filled the museum and apparently the attendance so far has been off the chart. The press has been fantastic on it too. Even in the week leading up to it’s opening, everyday there was a news article or another piece of press. There’s never been a show like it in Singapore so I think people will love it.

What have you got planned for the rest of 2018?

I am actually in Hong Kong at the moment working on a fantastic project for Art Basel in a few weeks. I am designing a print war to be installed in one of the major business centre stations so I’ll be back out here in just a few weeks.
And straight after that I have a two man show in Germany with French artist LX One and then I am off to Madrid for another big mural project and then we’ll see what happens.

I am also working on trying to find a good gallery to work with in London as I have most of Europe and the US covered but I rarely get to show work in my home town so hopefully that will change soon.

Find out more about Remi Rough’s latest projects here

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