Remi Rough, "Symphony of Systematic Minimalism" Solo Show at Wunderkammern Gallery Rome

Remi Rough is one of my favorite muralist. His unique brand of abstraction stands out amongst the endless images of street art/ murals that infest my newsfeed.

Superb compositions of clean lines, geometric shapes and well thought of color combinations defines his artworks. His visuals elevate the other wise dreary into spaces of fundamental beauty and complex dialogue. Remi Rough’s sensitivity towards the amalgamation of his art and the immediate space shows a level of sophistication few artists achieve. Remi Rough’s got class and style in spades.

I recently got the chance to ask him a few questions for his upcoming show in Wunderkammern Gallery titled, Symphony of Systematic Minimalism. Read on for a preview of what’s to come.

Interview by Crist Espiritu.
Art by Remi Rough.

Remi Rough's Studio

Let’s talk about your upcoming show Symphony of Systematic Minimalism. It was stated that this show ” explores the relationship between visual art and music “. How did you go about conveying this concept in your artworks?

I guess as a music maker for the past 20 years in various guises, I just felt it was about time I connected those two worlds into one. I have never done it before. This is pretty much the first time I’ve ever done that so I wanted to do it in a big fashion.

The paintings are also all very large scale. The biggest I’ve done for a solo show yet. So that relationship is really brought to life with both painting and sound here. The paintings also have a fluidity. I began layering them with transparencies, kind of like how you layer tracks in Logic Audio. There’s a similar process there so that really helped make the paintings relate.

Was there a specific genre of music that you listened to during your painting process for this series? How important is finding the right type of music to get your creativity going?

I was listening to a lot of new music actually… The new Bonobo album, The Swet Shop Boys – Cashmere was on repeat all the time too. I was also looping some of the sketches of the tracks I was working on for the album. They all sound quite different now that they’re actually finished and mixed etc. Amazing the journey a piece of music can take from a simple drum loop to a finalised song. I was trying to listen to a diverse cross section of music all the time as it helps inform you in different ways. Here’s a few other albums and mixes I was listening to; 4X4 Tracktor mix by Augustine Kofie, Emmaar – Tinariwen, Law – Cougar, David Axelrod, Vestiges & Claws – José Gonzalez, Welcome to the Afterfuture – Mike Ladd, Blond – Frank Ocean, Nevermen – Nevermen. So yeah, pretty diverse…

Everything in it's Right Place

Do you have a favorite piece from this show? What is it and what’s the story behind it?

I think my favorite piece is ‘Everything in it’s right place’. It’s a monumental piece at 250cm x 180cm. It’s the largest canvas painting I’ve ever made, yet it’s still very minimalistic. With it I wanted to create a feeling of expanse and density. I had this idea to have a monolithic form that dictated the entire painting, but was still humble and at ease with the rest of the painting. I repainted the large grey form 3 times to get the correct tone I wanted. It was quite hard work to get through this painting! I think the way the neon pink dances under the foreboding shapes in the foreground brings the painting to life. It makes it musical and brings it closer to my historical reference in graffiti, which I think is important sometimes to bring in as a reference. Not everyone knows this about me so I like to tell those narratives within the paintings. They may be abstract but they still all tell stories. Stories about me, my past, my future and my environment.

Let’s discuss your murals (which I am a fan of). For me, they really stand out from other’s and are always superbly composed. Why do you think that a Minimalist approach in doing public murals so effective?

That’s so kind, thank you! I guess I see the opportunity to paint a mural as a chance to do something different. I never paint the same thing twice. I like to play with the spaces I get. I love buildings with windows and twists of architecture whereas most artists want plain flat walls. You can achieve so much with so very little at such large scale too, maybe thats why they work so well. It’s about changing the perception of something thats mundane and that people walk past everyday with giving a second look. You can paint a wall red and add a black shape and white line and it becomes a totally different space. I have also learned to keep things simple in all my years of painting walls. Always go prepared with an idea and design. I never freestyle, I may only have 60% of the final design but the rest usually falls into place. To go with nothing is just too much work. Every wall you paint is another learning experience and it’s a hard and physical thing to do so you really need to be physically and mentally prepared to paint a large wall.

Mural at Musée Mohammed VI, Morocco

One of my favourite walls of late was my mural on the facade of the Musée Mohammed VI in Rabat, Morocco. I had a black ink sketch for it but knew it was going to be large black and red. The form was a part circle with a geometric form breaking into the inside of the circle, pretty simple design really but on that scale it really caught your attention. I also really think about the colours and their interactions. I like to use colours that sometimes have clashes but can still hold conversations, if you get my meaning? Painting a mural is just that in it’s essence. Just another way to hold a conversation.

Symphony of Systematic Minimalism” will be opening Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 6.30PM.

Wunderkammern Gallery
Via Gabrio Serbelloni 124, Roma
+39 349 811 2973

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