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Meet Rene Matić

Meet Rene Matić: the artist behind 'Uniquely Yours'

STORIES| 10.06.2021

We teamed up with visual artist Rene Matić to create an exclusive t-shirt design as part of our collection 'Uniquely Yours', celebrating Pride and the LGBTQ+ community.
A few months ago, Rene welcomed us into their studio to chat about the inspiration behind their design and what Pride means to them. Check out the full video to catch a glimpse of Rene's work and read on to find out more about what drives them as an artist.

 

Hi Rene! We're super excited to have you on board for this project! Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

My name's Rene Matic; I'm a 23-year-old conceptual artist from Peterborough but currently based in SE London, in my studio in Peckham. I make work about black Britishness, diaspora and mixed-race Britannia and what that means. I'm very interested in the consequences of immigration and migration. I take inspiration from dance and music movements such as two-tone, soul, skinhead, ska; all of these music genres came about through relationships between white and black people in Britain. I research a lot, and my work manifests itself in many different ways so that it could be writing or painting or photography or film or textiles. At the moment, I'm very interested in flags, and I have a book coming out soon called Flags For Countries That Don't Exist But Bodies That Do, which sums up why I'm so interested in them. Often, I find that film is my most comfortable area to explore things because the politics behind using a camera are so interesting in terms of imaging the black body, so I like to try and understand that and gain back some power with that. I've stopped painting for like a year which is weird because I've found that the language of painting is complicated, and actually, I prefer to bring things to life in a more realistic way. I have the people, I have the bodies, I have the faces all around me, my friends and my family, so I'm more interested in giving them platforms to speak on their own stories, which then feed into my stories and then a wider context of the Britain that we're living in today.

 

Can you explain a bit about how that all feeds into the design you created for the Uniquely Yours collection?

As I mentioned, I've been looking at flags a lot, and when Dickies approached me, I was in the studio working on flags. Because the collection was in honour of Pride and I'm a gay queen, I wanted to give an ode to all of the QTPOC family (Queer Trans People of Colour) that often feel left behind in the trans flag.  The colours I used are the Pan-African colours which are red, black and green. Marcus Garvey created the Pan-African flag in 1920; red is for the colour of blood that men must shed for their redemption and liberty. Black is for the colour of noble skin and distinguished race to which we belong; green is the colour of the luxuriant regeneration of the motherland. All of these things rarely get mentioned in the intersection of blackness and Queerness with Pan-Africanism. Pan-Africanism is the notion and ideology of all African diaspora and the things that bring us together and the shared histories and stories that we have. I find this rarely intersects with Queerness, so that's why I wanted to have our little moment on this t-shirt, to fly all of our flags at once.

 

Can you share more on who and what are your inspirations? What drives you to create?

My family are a big one; my Dad always comes up because of his story and journey, but then again, my mum is as well, and their relationship as a mixed-race couple was treacherous and interesting to me as a product of them. Nina Simone is another massive inspiration for me; when I was a kid, I think she was the first person I saw who was saying something through her art. I was so young when I first got introduced to Nina. She was probably one of the first musicians ever to influence my work. Now it's largely inspired by big music genres because of the lyrics and the cultures that they came from, and the subcultures they invented. My wife is a massive inspiration; of course, she is unreal. And I would mostly say the political climate; while it sounds weird to say it's an inspiration, it's definitely a big departure point for me. But mainly at the moment it's just dancing and music.

 

As you know, we asked you to base your design on the phrase 'Uniquely Yours'. Are you able to share more on how you interpreted this and what it means to you?

It's a difficult question to answer, I don't think it means anything to me specifically, and that is the point; it is undefined and uncapturable, so I think that's what is fabulous about it. You can't grasp it, it isn't anything, and therefore it is everything, so I suppose that's like freedom, I think. Uniquely Yours means nothing and everything; it's an impossible thing to answer because it shouldn't be defined or captured, and I think that that's the beauty of it, that it's freedom, I suppose.

 

Have you seen Pride evolve or change in England since you've lived in London, and if so, how?

Pride is such a strange one; I've never felt part of it. It's been quite white-washed, and white people have been at the centre of it for a long time. That wasn't the case back in the day, with Marsha P. Johnson and all those legends, so I feel like it comes in waves, and there's an inkling of reclaiming this energy and going back to the roots of Pride and why it happened and fighting and loving. That is essentially the point of it, is loving, and I find that I always remind myself to come back to this idea of loving a lot of times in my work. It's important to remind ourselves of why we're doing the things that we're doing; rather than feeling a weight on our shoulders, I try and alleviate that by just coming back to loving and loving my community, my wife, my family. I feel a lot of love for my community in London, so I would say that yes, it's been positive, but we do keep having these resurgences in response to violence on queer bodies, the whole community has to have a rest and a break, not necessarily from each other but from the world.

 

How has the last year impacted your creative practice?

I only graduated at the start of lockdown in June, so I haven't even been graduated a year, so I haven't experienced what it's like to have my practice outside of university, in the world, without lockdown, so it's hard for me to know how it's affected me. Still, I think that I've done so much reading, I've had more time and more space to calm down and not put pressure on myself to make and produce and turn up for things, and that's been important, so that's been fab. But on the other side, I lack in general inspiration from the world, like travelling and paying more attention to the outside world and people; I miss that because I think that influences my practice more than I ever realise, so I would say that's been a bit of an impact on my practice.

 

How has the last year impacted your community?

That's been so weird and another thing that's impacted my work as well as the community. The main thing is that we've not been able to be together, and that's so strange because a lot of us have come to London to have these chosen families and relationships that serve us and better us. We can sit comfortably within, and to have that taken away feels like a real hole and a real lacking. So I would say that bodies touching bodies and kissing and hugging. All of these fabulous ways in which we learn how to survive as Queer people, we haven't been able to practice those kinds of things, so I'm looking forward to getting on the dancefloor, and I want to slow-dance with someone and fast dance and do all of the dancing! That's been a big hit to the community, I think and everything in between.

 

Keep up to date with Rene's amazing work via their Instagram account @rude.boy.rene and website. Be sure to check out Rene's exclusive design for the Uniquely Yours capsule too.


  1. Uniquely Yours Bib
    Uniquely Yours Bib
    £95.00
    New in
  2. Uniquely Yours T-Shirt
    Uniquely Yours T-Shirt
    £30.00

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