RIME was born in 1979 and grew up in Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey. By the mid-1990s, he had emerged as one of the most passionate and dedicated graffiti writers of his generation, and in the twenty-seven-plus years since then, he has become one of graffiti’s greats. Drawing on an extensive knowledge of graffiti’s history of lettering styles and techniques, he has a visual vocabulary and versatility with letters nearly unparalleled worldwide and has held his own on walls with the best of the best.
RIME has a knowledge of and facility with the entire vocabulary of graffiti lettering styles that is nearly unparalleled worldwide. He can paint pieces in what seems to be nearly every style from throughout graffiti’s fifty year history, yet they always feel fresh, not derivative, and always his own. Brooklyn born, Staten Island raised, and longtime New Jersey resident RIME’s playful, character-filled work is full of color and movement, and from simple to complex, from soft to jagged, he is one of the few who can truly do it all in graffiti. If he can’t, his alter-alter ego, quasi-performance artist JERSEY JOE probably can.
RIME’s knack as a graffiti writer is much like that of a great jazz musician: he is able to elevate everyone’s level of play with his presence. At this point in his life, RIME has painted alongside as many of the greats of graffiti as anyone, and he’s brought out the best in them. With a background of such versatility and strong individual performance, RIME moved to California from 2005 to 2013, becoming part of the great Los Angeles crews MSK and AWR. Culturally, the more laid-back collective attitude was an adjustment: the abrasive, assertive energy that comes with an upbringing in New York City that didn’t always fit in. But RIME was more active than ever, with the weather making for a pleasurable year-round experience.
When it came to studio work, the dynamic was very different. While he had made works on canvas before, he felt at something of a dead end, and RIME wanted to go back to basics before moving forward again. In great demand to paint and appear at graffiti events, where he would endlessly sign fans’ black books, RIME originally focused on what was portable and familiar, working on paper and finding the direction he wanted to pursue. After resettling back in New York in 2013, he set up a formal studio practice for the first time, cut far back on travel, and focused his energies deeply into new bodies of studio work while still actively painting outdoors.
RIME’s new studio works are dynamic, with the swoops and loops that he had perfected in graffiti with a combination of spray paint and sublime muscle memory and bodily control able to convey an emotional emphasis. His signature cartoon characters peek out from the bends of these swoops, often reduced to suggestive figurative elements. The color schemes of his outdoor pieces, were, like any graffiti writer, made with whatever happened to be in the bag of paint that day, far out in the field, and often that meant wild pieces with dozens of colors. Yet his studio works pared these schemes down to a few well-chosen colors that played brilliantly together. Like his graffiti pieces, RIME’s studio works are composed in a format meant to be read: figurative images are often presented in profile or in action, carrying a sequential order through the image, an algebra of image, phrase, and meaning.
RIME had always been pro-organic, anti-artificial, in his work. You could see it in the graffiti: the sacred radius of the swing of the arm, the full dip in the knees and waist to a crouch. Never to measure, never to tape off, instead to use the sacred geometry of the body, of the confidence of style, of the moment, to divine proportions. But in a recent DMT experience he encountered a sense of how technologically coded our minds and existence are. He experienced what felt like an artificial, full color, three-dimensional program. He reconsidered the notion that this life, the universe, and consciousness was of organic origin. He felt the ones and zeros, the perfection of right angles, the grid structure undergirding the cosmos, and he began to work with what he had once closed off.
2017 Up on Through, Galerie Wallworks, Paris
2016 Conclusions, Jonathan LeVine Gallery, New York
2015 Danger Zone, Galerie Wallworks
2014 Reaction Lines, Galerie Wallworks
2013 Out With The Old, Library Street Collective, Detroit
TWFSL, The Seventh Letter Gallery, Los Angeles
2012 Sketchy M@#%herfuckers [with KC], Known Gallery, Los Angeles
Dangerous Drawings About New York [with Toper], Klughaus Gallery, New York
2011 Perseverance [with Roid and Revok], Known Gallery, Los Angeles
Mural for Art in the Streets, MoCA, Los Angeles
2008 Will Rise, Robert Burman Gallery, Los Angeles
2006 Letters First [with The Seventh Letter], Tokyo and Taipei
2004 Application, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth, Australia