Mode 2 was born in Mauritius in 1967, spending his childhood under the sun of the Indian Ocean, before moving to the UK in July 1976. Punk had just started its own cultural revolution, while reggae and dub were ever present in the neighbourhood. Mode 2 did all of his schooling there, drawing since as far back as Mode 2 can remember, spending his youth deep into comics, sci-fi and fantasy literature, as well as role-playing games such as “Dungeons & Dragons”.
After his school exams in summer ‘84, Mode 2 started hanging out in Covent Garden, the hub of the London Hip Hop scene, which he had discovered the year before, walking through it with my mother and the younger of my older brothers. His drawing ability led him to pick up the marker and spray-can, doing anything from painting banners for the “Alternative Arts” centre, or customizing the trousers or jackets of some of the other people hanging out with him, whether they were dancers or Mc’s. Mode 2 was soon trying to make a name for himself, along with his partner Scribla, then with Zaki Dee, Eskimo, and Xerox as The Trailblazers, and eventually as part of a crew called The Chrome Angelz , which Mode 2 formed in the spring of 1985, around the time of a seminal gig called The Rapattack, at the Shaw Theatre in the Euston area of London.
Mode 2 would take days off of school just to travel to Paris, with money earned from his first commissioned jobs; and there, alongside the legendary Bando, Mode 2 became part of that small group of first generation European graffiti-writers who set down the foundations that others would follow. They honed their talent for sure, but Mode 2 says that they were also lucky to be in the right place at the right time; surrounded by a lot of inspiring stimuli, and even more inspiring people.
Then, in 1987, the cover of “Spraycan Art” exported Mode 2 's name and his characters to every corner of the planet where the culture had taken hold. Mode 2 had told Henry that the New York writers were the ones who deserved to be on the cover; but he explained that the publishers, Thames & Hudson, thought that the character Mode 2 had done in Paris in September ’85 was the one that would best represent the content of the book to a wider audience, while underlining the global influence that the writing culture had acquired since 1984, and Henry and Martha Cooper’s previous book, Subway Art.
Passionate about culture in general, Mode 2 started taking photos since 1985, capturing the freshness, the vibe and the energy of the evolving Covent Garden scene around him, taken by the uniqueness of this phenomenon known as Hip Hop; where music, visual art, spoken word, percussion through the turntables, or corporal expression through dance all fed off of each other. This other passion has gone on ever since; burning rolls and rolls of 35mm film in compact cameras, trying out digital too, but not finding a digital compact camera which could do what light does to film emulsion.
More recently though, Mode 2 got the chance to have twenty prints made of my archive shots, for a show at the Galerie Issue (formerly Sergeant Paper) in Paris; showing how people used to socialize before the advent of digital cameras, internet, and the mobile phone.
The Hip Hop scene, no, not the rap crap, has always remained a source of inspiration for Mode 2; whether being on the edge of a circle with b-boys and b-girls going for theirs, or else having the luck to witness and hear a freestyle cipher in full flow; at Balboa Park for the B-Boy Summit in San Diego in early ’96, or earlier still outside the Def Jam Christmas party down on the waterfront district of NYC, in December ‘93. This is why Mode 2 is still doing the posters for the Battle Of The Year, for instance, while also sitting on its committee and remaining active for the promotion of dance as an art form in itself; not just an accessory to the video for some new dance track, or for some product advertising.
While Mode 2 may sometimes be expressing some rather harsh realities, or make use of some quite graphic and explicit imagery, he tries somehow to breathe into it a hint of hope and positivity, trying to inspire and empower those who either discover his work for the first time, or else those who are already followers of his path since years. Through what he does, Mode 2 tries to communicate the kind of energy that could either help people to overcome some of the obstacles of daily life, or else to give them added vision in the search for answers to some of the questions that come up in life’s more long-term issues.
"We, in the meantime, despite the plague of communication technology, will continue to evolve and refine what we do, choosing where and when we wish to reach out to the public, and give from what makes us feel alive" Mode2