Rene Gagnon (b.: 1971) was enthralled by the rap and graffiti movement that originated in New York City in the early 80’s. Gagnon found his calling in this movement.

He started drawing graffiti on his school book covers and piecing in railway tunnels in the early 80’s after seeing the movies, ‘Wild Style’ and ‘Beat Street’. Rene;s thirst for creation truly exploded after seeing the graffiti art from the streets of New York City in those movies. The enormity of the works and the care free expression of color displayed a means by which he could gain the attention that every teen is so desperately seeking. This rebellious idea of searching for your identity through the use of markers and spray paint fueled his desire to follow in the footsteps of a graffiti artist.

In 1986 Rene Gagnon met a graffiti artist (STER) from the Bronx. STER opened his eyes even more to what it meant to be a true writer. Together they created his tag: SNO. Armed with an alias he started to truly bomb his environment. He was considered to be the most widely recognized graffiti artist/tagger in Southeastern, Massachusetts from 1986-1993. He believed he gained this recognition because he always had a thirst for taking aspects of his life to the Nth degree.

Rene Gagnon now finds himself at a point in life where he’s beginning to see through the spray paint haze of his teens. He now realises that an artist’s work should represent their soul. So, through the use of urban media techniques he used as a teenager, a newfound love for creating street art, and his need as a human to create, Rene is attempting to bridge the gap between urban graffiti / street art and contemporary abstract expressionism.

In almost every city graffiti and street art is present in a multitude of forms. Some artists choose the permanency of spray painted tags, throw-ups, and stenciled imagery, while others opt for the immediacy and aging characteristics of stickers and paste ups. Often times, these artists’ of the street will battle with each other for visibility on the same surfaces. Over time, the multiple transformations of these surfaces reveal an abstract maze of color and composition that the artist sees as an opportunity. The opportunity to create something much greater than what meets the eye.

Rene’s vision is to recreate this battle between graffiti and street artists’ in his studio work. By mixing his past graffiti experience with the street art pieces he does today, he’s able to fuel his attack on the canvas. As feelings are evoked from the written words and the often emotionally charged imagery he leaves on the streets a physical manifestation builds to a point of overflow. Ultimately unleashing itself in a furor of uninhibited energy, where time and place become nonexistent. It is in this vitality that his artistic soul reveals itself and dances its way into a flurry of whirling paint and exploding spray paint cans.

Rene Gagnon believes this melting of the graffiti / street artist in him with the abstract expressionist produces an original take on two major art forms. He has coined this amalgamation ‘Post-Graffiti Abstract Expressionism’ and it serves as the backbone to his work.

Rene Gagnon

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