Spotlight

Feature Legendary Street Artist Remi Rough

Championed by Humphrey Ocean RA
Design, Visual Arts
The Wick - Remi Rough, 2021
East Dulwich mural
Above  Remi Rough, 2021 East Dulwich mural
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The Wick - Remi Rough by Ian Skelton
Above  Remi Rough by Ian Skelton
Interview
Remi Rough and Humphrey Ocean
30 June 2021
Interview
Remi Rough and Humphrey Ocean
30 June 2021
With a career spanning more than five decades, London-based artist Humphrey Ocean is considered one of the UK’s great painters. Following his first major solo exhibition in 1984 at the National Portrait Gallery, he has had a long association with the gallery and undertaken portrait commissions for the likes of Sir Paul McCartney and Philip Larkin. In 2002, he was artist in residence at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London and elected a Royal Academician two years later. His works have been shown at Tate Liverpool and London’s Whitechapel Gallery and are held in public collections at the British Council and Victoria & Albert Museum. With such impressive credentials, if Humphrey Ocean recommends an artist, you take note.

That’s why, if he isn’t already, Remi Rough should be on your radar.
If you’re familiar with the UK’s graffiti movement, he probably already is. Synonymous with its development, Rough’s powerful abstract compositions and large-scale murals have an energy and tension reflective of his original graf roots, painting walls and trains across the world for more than 20 years.

He’s since added site-specific projects at the “Ghost Village” in Scotland and the Megaro Hotel (which is the largest mural in Central London), and galleries and cities across the world in New York, Paris and Hong Kong to his impressive legacy. A 120m installation in Quarry Bay MTR station in Hong Kong for Art Basel 2018 was a recent highlight for him.

“I met Remi Rough a couple of years ago at Masterpiece Art Fair,” Humphrey Ocean told us. “We were on a panel talking about artists collecting art. I took to him and then luckily found his art was as measured and quick as he is. Although galleries now show his geometries of colour, I’d wager his formative history of painting on buildings demanded an element of physical alertness.”

Rough added: “I grew up in the world of 1980s graffiti, which is of great importance to me and even more important to the wider cultural lexicon as it’s the only art movement in history ever to be created by and taken forward by children. That’s a huge part of my influence… The abstraction of letter forms and the colour dynamics and energy are all an integral part of my practice. I am also influenced by architecture and the way cities morph around the individuals who live in them. I grew up painting these surfaces like steel and concrete and now I use surface as an important aspect within my work. All of these things led me to discover a broader appreciation of artists like Malevich, Van Doesburg, Bridget Riley and Carmen Herrera.”

Rough’s next project will see him team up with his good friend and London-based painter Charley Peters on a collaborative mural in East London. Rough, who is also an accomplished music producer and one half of the critically acclaimed TheDeadCanRap, will also be working with his musical partner, Mike Ladd, on a follow-up to their 2020 album, and releasing an NFT with animator Jacob Escott. His legacy is far from complete.

About the champion

The Wick - Humphrey Ocean RA

After studying at Canterbury College of Art from 1970 to 1973 before supporting The Who on their 1973 Christmas Tour (he plays the bass), Humphrey Ocean embarked on a career in art that would span five decades and see him create paintings, prints and sculptures in his distinctive style. Most recently, he was the Royal Academy’s Professor of Perspective from 2012-2020.

“I took to him and then luckily found his art was as measured and quick as he is.”

Humphrey Ocean

Place of Birth

Guy’s Hospital, Southeast London.

Education

I’m 100 per cent self-taught and proud of it.

Awards, Accolades

Received the 2020 award for commercial beautification from the city of San Marco, Florida. Invited to speak as part of the talks programme for the Street Art exhibition at Tate Modern (2008). Invited to create a permanent mural on the VCU Honors College in Richmond, Virginia (2016). One of four artists chosen to paint the Megaro Hotel in London (2012).

Recent exhibitions

In Real Life, studio show, London (now ended) and Post Painterly Now at Sugarlift, NYC.

Spiritual guides and mentors

Futura has always been a shining light and mentor to me. Also, Stormie Mills, Carlos Mare, Christopher Le Brun and Juice 126. Bridget Riley is my go-to spirit guide always.

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