Hi Rene! What is one of your first artistic memories?
When I was a kid all I would do is draw and make things and one day in primary school I sat back and looked at this one picture and thought shit, I’ve really got something going here and the boy next to me was saying that he hated it and he started getting all red faced and vexed like I had ruined his life. I remember thinking oh, ok so this is jealousy (and fragile masculinity) and that I had something that could be powerful and that no one could take away from me. I think thats when I learnt to nurture this gorgeous thing that is creativity and imagination.
Talk me through your recent collection for COLLUSION? What themes did you explore?
The works that I produced for this collaboration embody themes of solidarity, diaspora and belonging, making subtle reference to the work of Audre Lorde and James Baldwin, two integral figures in my practice.
When did you first realize you wanted to be an artist? Did you ever have a ‘Plan B’ career choice?
I studied fashion design at college and a year of fashion BA at Ravensbourne Uni before dropping out to pursue fine art after the first year. I always wanted to be an artist but I didn’t think people like me could make it in the ‘art world.’ I wasn’t in love with fashion like I was art. You need true love and respect for your subject if you are going to succeed.
What are some of your biggest inspirations?
My Wife and everyone else who always knew who they fucking were and where they deserved to be.
What’s been a career highlight for you so far?
I was recently commissioned by Tate and the Mayor of London to install some work at the Black Cultural Archives. I made four black power fists to honour British black panther, Community leader and Activist, Olive Morris who died at the age of 27 in 1979, the fists are 5ft 2, the same height as Olive and myself. Doing that project meant I had the honour of meeting some of Olives closest friends and family, that was a real moment. I will remember it forever, those people are royalty. Making work for people like that, that’s the honey.
The film that’s shaped you the most and why?
Soon to be a film, Patti Smith’s book ‘Just Kids’ is what shaped me the most. I finished reading it four days before my 16th birthday. I think it offered me a freedom that felt so far away previously. It stresses the importance of the self and love and poetry as philosophy. its a fairytale really but it brought me up and I thank Patti everyday for that.
Your ultimate style icon?
Most things that came out of the 70s… The Black Panthers, Skinheads, Punks… the aesthetics of resistance is sexy as hell.
Who are your top five creatives to follow on Instagram?
@Kai_isaiah_jamal @Charlie_craggs @joymiessi @dominiquehwhite @thehwhitepube.
The one quote you live your life by?
GO FOR BROKE – James Baldwin.
The number one advice you’d give to young artists starting out?
Know when/if it’s your turn, be precious with your tools. Don’t make compromises.
What’s up next for you, any upcoming projects you can share?
I am going to be taking some time to read all the books I have been neglecting. To reevaluate my priorities, my commitments and my worth.
The future of art – in one word…
Finally, your dream creative goal?
To be able to sustain a political practice without compromise and co-option.
Follow Rene on Instagram @bad.gal.rene.