Life & Culture

George and Alfie Rouy: the Brothers Preparing for Art World Domination

Alfie is just building his practice, George is already on the radar, touted as one of this generation’s most promising painters

George and Alfie Rouy are preparing for art world domination. Today though the Kent-born brothers are happy doing what siblings do best, winding each other up. Albeit in their gentle, teasing way. George, 23, with his wash-in wash-out dyed red spikes is the more confident of the two. Alfie, 19, has natural dark-blonde hair past his shoulders and takes a backseat in the conversation. As well as the brunt of the digs. But from getting psychedelic rock tips and advice about girls, to following in his footsteps at Camberwell College of Arts, you can tell he looks up to his talented big brother.

Both paint, and while Alfie is just building his practice, George is already on the radar. Fresh from his first US solo show at the Anna Zorina Gallery in New York, his work exudes a tactile fogginess, aggressive and primal with strange erotic undertones. Soft bodies contorted to fit their canvases, poses inspired by the dancefloor, in a colour palette that glows with otherworldly power. An intensity at odds with the surreal calm of his brother’s quiet landscapes. It’s a contrast that reflects their characters – George is a ball of suppressed energy, laid-back Alfie reflective and serene.

Here, they share a few family secrets about young love, lyrics and looking for enlightenment.

Would you describe yourself as a romantic?

George Rouy: Yeah I have my moments. It’s a way of looking at things in the best way, and engaging with things day to day. There’s a romance to stuff. Trying to find romance in things is important as well. When Alfie was younger he was romantic, he used to make presents for girls at school.

Who was your first crush?

George Rouy: Ellie, when I was six or seven, I gave her a ring from Argos, and my friend got her one too. We were both after this one girl. And Kate Winslet from Titanic, I really liked her.

Have you ever had your heart broken?

George Rouy: I’ve been close. In terms of relationships, I can definitely feel for others who are going through a rough time. But there’s a liberation from loss. There’s a clarity to it, in a bizarre way.

Are you in love at the moment?

Alfie Rouy: I suppose I’m in love in the way that I give love to the world. I try to manifest as much love as I can, to try and make the world a better place, in any way I can. I put love and energy into my paintings. And happiness is part of love, so if someone looking at them feels happy, then hopefully they feel loved. I just try to show love, and have a loving aura.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for love?

Alfie Rouy: I did a painting inspired by The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s song It Girl, and the lyrics are ‘which girl is the right girl, is the perfect one for me,’ so my painting it revolved around that. But I’ve never really been in love.

What wouldn’t you do for love?

George Rouy: When you’re in love it can be so consuming, so avoid that. And not become selfish through your desire and need for someone. I think you have to restrain yourself a bit, and not consume the other person either – it can be destructive.

Do you have a secret passion?

George Rouy: I love watching Naruto which is an anime about ninjas. The series are really long but I’ve sort of grown up with it. You can only watch so many episodes when you’re a kid, but when you’re old enough to control your own life you can binge watch without your mum telling you off, and you go a bit mental. Alfie’s secret passion is drugs. Only joking!

What are you obsessed with?

Alfie Rouy: Developing spirituality. And to develop my potential as an artist and a person – to be the best that I can be. There are so many questions you ask yourself that can be answered in your subconscious, and meditation is key. People think it’s bullshit but it’s really not. It’s just learning about yourself, and how you think.

What’s the most romantic piece of art?

George Rouy: When we were younger dad would take us round the Tate and he showed me the Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dalí, based on the Greek myth about the guy who fell in love with himself by looking at his own reflection in the water. So maybe that one.

Who is your romantic hero and why?

Alfie Rouy: Donovan, because he has an album called A Gift from a Flower to a Garden and it’s really romantic. It’s the the way its sung, more than what it’s about. I remember asking George years ago what psychedelic music I should listen to and he said Season of the Witch by Donovan, so that’s how that started.

George Rouy: Smothered Awake is at Steve Turner Gallery, Los Angeles until December 8, 2018.

A version of this article appeared in the A/W18 ‘Romance and Ritual’ issue of Another Man.