Inside the Ultra-Violet Expressionist Mind of ‘Miami Grandpa’ Artist Romelle
Step inside the abstract ultra-violet mind of Denver-based artist Romelle. Born and bred in the suburbs of Detroit with heartstrings in Miami, Romelle’s expressionist style is a saturation of place, color, and mixed-medium— using everything from paint, spray paint, acrylic, and oil pastel to translate her subconscious readings of cities and their lifesources.
The single name breakout talent— see: Morrissey, Cher, Twiggy (oddly Romelle is a hybrid of all three)— recently wrapped an artist residency and “Untitled” solo show with TAXI Community before settling into an intimate space at Walnut Workshop, where her musings lay forever beaming with the voltage on high.
Large scale abstract paintings line the walls and the physical catharsis of entering Romelle’s studio is similar to baking in a healthy tanning bed. Having created these pieces in the dead of Colorado winter, they are radically bright and full of blood-pumping warmth. Among the names include “1967 feat. Jimi Hendrix” “A Glimpse of the Sun” and “Supernova Tendencies.”
“I paint what I need to see,” Romelle tells Flora Fauna.
Donning plaid vintage pants, 70s purple leather boots, and an 80s scrunchie on her wrist, Romelle is calm and effortless, much like a retired senior basking in the Miami sun. Comically, she describes her personal style as “a Miami grandpa meets a Detroit winter.” Sitting oposite her towering 60”x72” works is a loveseat couch draped with bright marigold chunky knit blanket, a vase of purple-died daises, and an ashed smudge stick. Among her bookshelf in the corner, Patti Smith, Sigmund Freud, and a neon orange hardcover titled “Transcendence” hint at Romelle’s vast and often clashing influences. It takes a second look, but Romelle is not only the light, but the darkness too.
She calls her work “not premeditated,” and instead seems to glide through the world as a sponge.
“I’m influenced by colors and where I’ve been, soaking in and synthesizing. Lately Cy Twombly has been an influence. I ask: how do I have my own conversation with color and texture?”
Among Romelle’s other core influences is street artist Revok, who often got into trouble with the LAPD for his graffiti and now has piece showing in high-brow galleries. Growing up around Detroit, Romelle says she studied local street art and was pulled to the energy and attitude of graffiti.
“In the abstract sense, a lot of what I do is energy,” she says. Absorbing flashes of this style has resulted in tag-esk spray paint details throughout her work. “[Graffiti] started when freight trains would pass and anyone could throw up their tag. It was a pre-social media way of saying ‘I was here.’ In similar style, Romelle’s paintings are a red pin dropped to mark the places she has been. “Absurdly painted buildings in Miami,” to “a girl with weird green colored nails” find their final destination on the canvas.
Where in the world will Romelle go next? What new colors will stick to her boots?
She has no calendar or agenda. A remix of Ray Charles “I’ve got a Woman,” comes in slinky and gritty as Romelle says, “I’ll bringing it in smaller and getting to know myself more.” Of course, she’s talking scale not destination, although she might argue this next voyage encompasses both.