Featured artist: Mode 2

Unframed Art Gallery is proud to present our featured artist for this month, the renowned Mode 2. With a career spanning decades, Mode 2 has made a significant impact on the art world, particularly in the realms of graffiti and urban art. His unique style and diverse influences have captured the imagination of art enthusiasts worldwide. Join us as we delve into the fascinating life and artistic journey of Mode 2.

Born in Mauritius in 1967, Mode 2 relocated to the UK in 1976. Growing up amidst the cultural revolution of punk, as well as the pulsating sounds of reggae and dub, Mode 2 found inspiration in various art forms, from comics and sci-fi literature to role-playing games. The release of the iconic movie “Star Wars” in 1977 further ignited his passion for science fiction and fantasy, transforming the way he viewed the world around him.

These diverse influences, coupled with the music that permeated the airwaves and the vibrant streets of London, found expression in Mode 2’s early artwork. From comic strip characters to lead figurines and even oil portraits and landscapes, he explored various mediums, honing his skills as a visual artist.

In 1984, Mode 2 discovered the thriving hip-hop scene in Covent Garden, London. This pivotal moment marked a turning point in his artistic journey. Inspired by the vibrant energy of hip-hop, he embraced the use of markers and spray cans, becoming immersed in graffiti art. Collaborating with other talented artists such as Scribla, Zaki Dee, Eskimo, and Xerox, Mode 2’s artistry gained recognition, eventually leading to the formation of The Chrome crew in 1985.

His groundbreaking contributions to the graffiti world became widely recognized with the publication of “Spraycan Art” in 1987. The cover of this influential book showcased Mode 2’s unique character, catapulting his name and artistry onto the global stage. While this newfound fame brought attention to his work, it also presented its challenges, altering some relationships and perceptions. However, Mode 2 persevered, utilizing his status to his advantage and forging ahead with his artistic endeavors.

Beyond graffiti, Mode 2’s artistic pursuits extended into other creative realms. Passionate about photography, he began capturing the essence and energy of the evolving Covent Garden scene in 1985, documenting the phenomenon of hip-hop culture. His photographic journey continued over the years, resulting in exhibitions and publications that showcased his skillful eye for capturing moments of human connection and interaction.

Mode 2’s enduring love for the hip-hop scene has remained a constant source of inspiration throughout his career. Whether observing B-boy and B-girl circles, witnessing freestyle ciphers, or designing posters for events like the Battle of the Year, he continues to celebrate and promote the culture that has shaped him.

One notable aspect of Mode 2’s artistry is his fascination with the female figure. His drawings and paintings portray women in a variety of forms, emphasizing natural curves and an inclusive representation that resonates with viewers. Through his work, Mode 2 strives to inspire and empower individuals, offering a blend of harsh realities and graphic imagery infused with hope and positivity.

While Mode 2’s figurative contributions to spray-painting have gained him recognition, he remains true to his roots in graffiti writing. He firmly believes in the democratic nature of this art form, emphasizing how it has provided countless young people with a means of creative expression. The interplay between shapes, colors, and movement in graffiti and other elements of hip-hop culture has guided his artistic evolution, unifying the visual, musical, and corporeal languages that define the culture.

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