The Fridge Presents Rei21 ‘Rei21: A Collective’
Opening Reception: Saturday, July 1, 2017, 6:00-10:00 pm featuring DJ OSO FRESH
Workshop: Sunday, July 16, 2017, 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Exhibition on view July 1, 2017 to July 30, 2017
With over 40 original pieces on canvas, paper, model trains, and works using found objects, the Washington, DC graffiti writer Rei21 offers a series that spotlights the most recent stage of a creative career that spans more than two decades. Rei21’s style combines technical and organic elements with an emphasis on flow. He has come to be known for artwork containing industrial themes, often using elements relating to power lines and the railroad industry. For Rei21: A Collective, the artist shares a variety of pieces that reflect a shift in approach to his work.
Twenty-five years ago, Rei21 began writing SAMURAI on the streets of Frankfurt, Germany, where his family was stationed with the United States military. Social attitudes toward graffiti and street art in Frankfurt, where full-color pieces and murals were commonplace and even welcomed, were different than what many areas of the United States were experiencing around the same era. In his early teens, Rei21 was growing up surrounded by a landscape of graffiti art, and he was inspired to take part. Over time, SAMURAI was shortened to just RAI, and, after he moved to the Washington, DC-area in 1997, the artist started writing REI and began to shift his focus to painting on trains as his canvas of choice. With trains featuring his work regularly traveling out of the city, Rei21 received regional and national exposure, and by 2006, the artist had amassed over 1000 train pieces.
Now, with decades of experience under his belt, national recognition as a graffiti writer, and as an official distributor for the leading high end, Spanish spray paint manufacturer Montana Colors (MTN), Rei21’s work has taken a more nuanced, and color-rich, turn.
“Graffiti often follows a formula: sketch, fill, and repeat – and I was following that formula for many years in my career. My process has evolved, and I’m now pushing my use of color, mixing bright and muted shades to develop a visual tension, while still maintaining a balance, rhythm, and flow in my works. Many of the works in this show will feature my name, and I also regularly incorporate both urban and rural landscape themes into my art by painting subjects like power lines and trains. I have always been focused on details, and have an obsession with how letters move and bend. With my name, I strive to stretch the letter forms to their limits while still adhering to a traditional format and semi-legibility. Power lines, taken in their every day context, aren’t intended to be art, but I elevate them by giving them form and shape with the same attention to detail that I stress in my letters,” says the artist.
Aside from trains, Rei21 regularly collaborates with fellow artists and works on his own to produce work in and around the DC area as well as traveling across the US to paint small and large-scale works.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Rei21 (pronounced “RYE 21”) began his creative endeavors in 1992 in Frankfurt, Germany, and quickly learned the necessary tools to develop an artistic repertoire and solidify a unique expression. After moving to Washington, DC area in 1997, his work evolved to new heights, partnering with other local artists to produce large-scale murals and commissioned works in the area and throughout the East Coast. Currently a Creative Director in the DC metro area, Rei21 is also the owner of JunctionXXI LLC, a regional distributor for Montana Colors (MTN) street artist supplies. He has traveled the country to collaborate on creative projects for numerous entities, including: Corona, Powerade, Verizon Wireless, Scion, Virgin Mobile, MTV, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Lululemon Athletica, and Red Bull Energy Drink. Rei21 was recently featured in 400ml, a book exhibition tour originating in Paris, France and traveling throughout Europe. His work also appeared in the film Beverly Hills Chihuahua as well as numerous music videos and has been displayed in various galleries nationally and abroad, including: Art Whino, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Arlington Arts Center, Artomatic, DB5K Gallery, Longview Gallery, Heineman Myers Contemporary Art, Maison des Métallos (Paris), and Strychnin Gallery (Berlin, Germany).
516 8th St SE
Washington, District of Columbia