Inspiration in Hip Hop, expressing an analogue culture Paris Read more

Born in Mauritius in 1967, Mode 2 arrived in London in the hot summer of 1976, discovering a whole new environment from that of his native island, where punk was in full boom, while dub and reggae were the prevalent musical backdrop of his Lewisham neighbourhood.

Having been drawing since he was small, his mother supplied him and his siblings with comics, and encouraged to watch TV and listen to the radio, in order to lear English as quickly as possible. With 2000AD as a weekly comic, Star Wars coming out in 1977, and an introduction to The Lord Of The Rings and Dungeons & Dragons by a friend of his oldest brother, Mode 2 was constantly inspired to explore these genres with his drawings, while also trying out the odd oil paintings and aquarelles.

By the early eighties though, the sound of electro and rap, along with the discovery of spray-painting, via Malcom McLaren’s Buffalo Gals video, turned his focus towards new horizons. So; from the summer of 1984, we would find him hanging around Covent Garden, where Hip Hop culture had found a new home, and pretty much everybody from the London scene hung out. Having already been interested in lettering and logos, picking up the marker and spray-can was a logical step for him. That summer, he would pair up with another artist called Scribla, and then with Zaki Dee and his crew, and paint on different events where he would also run into Pride, and 3D (Massive Attack).

He helped to form a new crew called The Chrome Angelz, in March 1985, then met with Bando from Paris, before going there to paint in May that year. Along with the music, the travelling and exchanging of styles made everybody progress very quickly in that short space of time, meeting up with Shoe from Amsterdam in mid-July, and travelling yet further as the years went by.

He settled in Paris to work in computer graphics in 1987, but didn’t stay there long, getting back to murals, posters, logos and contributing to the Hip Hop scene, having one of his characters on the front cover of the seminal book Spraycan Art. He did record sleeves, the posters for dance events, or collaborations with photographers like Jean-Baptiste Mondino or later Harri Peccinotti, before eventually beginning to regularly produce paintings from 1995.

Having taken part in many events and festivals; from the ones organised by the scene itself, to official and historical events such as Art In The Streets at the MoCA in Los Angeles, to co-curating The Bridges Of Graffiti at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015, Mode 2 has always been a keen live performer, emphasising how the culture is based around action itself, whether in dance, music or on the microphone. He is also considered to be one of the historians of the culture (before the digital revolution muddied the waters somewhat), with his personal photo archive having recorded its evolution, alongside his continuing artistic output.