Frogo explores the unknown through art

Remi Frogo stands next to painting.
Remi Frogo takes inspiration from images in her camera roll as references for her paintings, and creates interesting compositions with photoshop. (Marissa Ding | Daily Trojan)

Everyone has their own way of understanding the world. For some, it’s through conversation with peers;  for others, it’s studying a certain topic. 

For Remi Frogo, the world can be understood through art or, at least, that’s the goal of her new exhibit, “i know everything.”

In this  “exploration of self,” Frogo set out to create a show that “dissects, denies, and resurrects.” 

“The ‘i know everything’ title came from a zine that I recently made. It’s a bit of a jab at my work being kind of self-centered. A lot of my subjects are myself,” Frogo said. “[It’s] a little sarcastic — kind of revolving around me not knowing everything, wanting to know more and just kind of making fun of myself a little bit … It’s subtly funny to me.” 

Frogo, a senior majoring in fine arts, applied for a showcase last spring and was accepted in November. The installation is made up primarily of paintings that Frogo created over the past two years, often composed from her own photos. Her best friend, Ellie Williams, a senior majoring in popular music performance, witnessed the creation of her exhibit, which, in large part, is a collection of memories throughout her life. Williams first met Frogo in the pair’s junior year of high school, when they attended the Orange County School of the Arts. Since then, the two have supported each other’s growth as artists and people.

“When I met her, she was already like Picasso, already very, very talented,” Williams said. “I was already aware that she was going to be making art for a long time.” 

While Frogo experiments with various mediums, oil paint is the one that she gravitates toward the most. 

“A lot of things start with a visual idea rather than a concept,” Frogo said. “I’ve learned that as I start to paint it from this image, as I’m working on it, I’ll start to realize what it conceptually means to me, but I like to lead with the visual rather than the conceptual most of the time.”

No two artists are identical in approach to developing their work. What sets Frogo apart is her point of inspiration, which, for the most part, originates in the buried treasures of her own camera roll, featuring memories of her friends and, often, herself.

Women looks at painting.
“i know everything” features Frogo’s paintings and drawings from the past two years. The gallery is on display at Watt Hall from now until Jan. 25. (Marissa Ding | Daily Trojan)

Characterized by bright colors and occasionally chaotic compositions, Frogo’s paintings are unmistakably hers. For some of her paintings, Frogo distorts and compiles her reference images into captivating compositions, creating varying points of focus. Other paintings have a more direct focus, such as the painting depicting a one hour and twenty minute phone call with her mother.  

“I learned how to paint by using other people’s references and trying to replicate other things. I got to the point where I was like ‘I don’t want to be just taking other people’s images,’ so it started at a place of ‘if it’s my own photos or if it’s myself, then it’s definitely original,’” Frogo said. “Then it led into wanting to depict myself in a certain moment in time and take a period of my own life and experience and immortalize that point in time. As it progressed, each new self- portrait I made kind of replaced the last … It feels natural now.”

After a lifetime spent refining her own artistic palette and working closely with mentor Keith Mayerson, a professor of art at Roski, Frogo was prepared to cultivate her own exhibit. 

 “I always say to be a great artist, each new work needs to be your masterpiece and you have to beat it with your next masterpiece,” Mayerson said. “Remi from the get-go has been making masterpiece after masterpiece, but when you see them together it’s an eclectic body of work where they’re all equally good and it’s just about different ideas happening in each one.”

When trying to create an introduction to her show, Frogo enlisted the help of her friend, Julia Lin, a senior majoring in journalism. 

“I’m not always super good at articulating my work and my ideas into words, so it was cool to see her take what I said and interpret it and say it back to me,” Frogo said.

Although Frogo begins the exhibit with the phrase, “I know everything, and by that I mean I know nothing,” the unknown is the appeal of her work. 

“It’s a combination of wanting to know everything and actually knowing nothing, which I think is very cool,” Williams said. “I personally resonate with that a lot.”

“i know everything” is on display at the Helen Lindhurst Fine Arts Gallery in Watt Hall from Jan. 12 to 25.