Edition No.01, Stikki Peaches
Alex and Nick of romeo’s gin fell in love with “Mo’Z”, a piece of art by Montreal street artist Stikki Peaches, the moment they saw it – it was a coup de foudre that would cement a wonderful relationship.
But, while Nick and Alex may have met Stikki many times, they’ll never reveal this anonymous artist’s real identity.
“Being anonymous stemmed from me wanting my work to speak for itself,” Stikki says. “I’ve never done this for recognition – it all started as a way to cope, an artistic therapy of sorts.”
Stikki’s work fuses pop culture and high culture with pops of colour, re-imagining the way the world sees iconic images.
He explains, “Everyone can relate to some form of pop culture. It draws you in, and then you discover all of the added messages that can inspire or spark debate.”
This piece was inspired by his parent’s love of Mozart, though he’s transformed how we see this icon of high culture by introducing symbols and text to his portrait.
He says, “A lot of the additions relate to myself and my upbringing, but there are also universal messages of hope, belief and strength. They’re all things that everyone and anyone can find common ground with, including Mozart himself!”
Edition No.02, Marc Gosselin
For artist Marc Gosselin, the rugged skyline of industrial Montreal has provided limitless inspiration.
For the 375th anniversary of Montreal, the romeo’s gin team chose him to render the shape of the city for a special edition bottle.
Gosselin works from photographs, applying paint and three-dimensional elements to his work. In this way, his canvases are literally constructed from found wood, echoing the growth of the city he calls home.
Edition No.03, Santerre
As a lifelong resident of Montreal, it was natural for artist Eric Santerre to celebrate the city’s 375th anniversary by creating a portrait of its founder: Jacques Cartier.
He says, “Montreal exists because of Cartier. I wanted to pay tribute to him by juxtaposing today’s Montreal with the man who made it possible.”
An artist of international renown, Santerre is best known for his lively, colourful works suffused with spirituality and allegory.
His work is simultaneously dark and light-hearted – though this playful portrait, which blends 49 Montreal landmarks with the image of Cartier, is a pure celebration of the city.
“There’s no better place to be in the spring,” Santerre says of Montreal. “You can feel the sun recharge your soul.”
Edition No.04, Julie Couture & Ryan Smeeton
They were born on the same day, but photographer Julie Couture and street artist Ryan Smeeton didn’t meet until Le Germain, one of Montreal’s hippest hotels, and romeo’s gin commissioned them to collaborate on a unique art piece for the hotel’s lobby.
Julie says, “From the minute I saw his work, it was clear that I had to work with Ryan. Our connection was immediate, and the collaboration a great success.”
“It was a great opportunity to see how we could combine our very different mediums,” Ryan adds, “but also explore a new dynamic, and see how our work could evolve from it.”
Ryan layered his own work over Julie’s stunning portrait of the city. “In Ottawa, I wanted to bring out the city’s landmarks in a modern way, while creating a meditative environment,” Julie says. “My works are printed on six meters of felt and are, in and of themselves, all-encompassing.”
Edition No.05, Sandra Chevrier
Even as a child drawing in her bedroom, Sandra Chevrier has been obsessed with eyes. Now, they’re often the focal point of her work, particularly in her series Cages. These portraits express the pressure on women to be superhuman in today’s patriarchal society.
She says, “Their comic book cages serve also as masks, riddled with rips and holes through which we see their souls. It’s an uncomfortable and illuminating vantage point.”
It’s a pressure that Sandra, an internationally acclaimed artist who also wears a hundred other hats, knows well. She says, “I’m a single mom, a business woman, an artist, a housekeeper, a romantic partner. It puts a lot on one’s shoulders.”
The image she selected for Romeo’s Gin No.05, called ‘La Cage; Toi, Moi et le Rêve’, is one of Sandra’s most effecting works.
She says, “I wanted a colourful image that would be inspiring, empowering, refreshing and light. I also love the integration of one of the most powerful words: dream.”