Charles Uzzell-Edwards, better known as Pure Evil, started his graffiti activities in the nineties inspired by the skate culture and West Coast graffiti scene. On his return to the UK, Pure Evil established himself as one of the most influential street artists Britain has to offer and, in the recent times, one of the most interesting gallerists in London. In the community of street art enthusiasts, Pure Evil became famous and respected for his unique grim and ironic iconography, signature bunny rabbit emblems, and exploration of the darker side of our social universe. This year, however, due to the tragic events that occurred in the artist life, Pure Evil’s work became more personally engaged and more spiritual, departing from his previous choice of themes and symbols. The new chapter in Pure Evil’s work is best seen in the two new series of artworks, which are currently on display at Wunderkammern Gallery in Rome.
When asked about the dystopian content of his work Pure Evil often “blames it” on his family heritage and the heraldry line which can be traced back to his predecessor Thomas More. Exploration of the darker side of the utopian ideals is unquestionably one of the main entities in Pure Evil’s work. The pessimism expressed through irony is what brought the artist closer to the people behind Santa’s Ghetto and lead to his participation in the Pictures on the Walls project. After that, Pure Evil exhibited his works all over the globe. In 2004 Pure Evil “accidentally” became a gallerist, the founder of the Pure Evil Gallery dedicated to the promotion of street art with a special focus on British and international emerging talents. In an interview, which we recently shared with Pure Evil, he made some great remarks about the nature of street art, and how it needs its own independent places apart from the arrogance of contemporary art world. After more than fifty successful exhibitions, Pure Evil Gallery truly deserves the title of the independent artists’ Mecca. Except from his work as an artist and as a gallerist, Pure Evil has done a great deal of work in promoting graffiti and street art practices through his numerous lectures, a radio show and regular workshops.
While we speak, our artist of the week is presenting his works at Wunderkammern Gallery in Rome. Entitled Echoes the exhibition features some of Pure Evil’s most iconic works from the infamous Nightmare pieces to two of his recent series. The title of the exhibition refers to the concept of memory, which is the main theme explored throughout the show. The retrospective part of the exhibition consists of numerous portraits of Hollywood stars marked by the signature teardrop. The more intimate exploration of the past is found in A Temple of Broken Hearts series which incorporate Eastern religious iconography that came as a result of Pure Evil’s spiritual journey to Asian temples and a whole new body of work entitled Childhood series influenced by the children’s books imagery. With famous and new works on display in Rome, the Echoes exhibition shows how much the work of Pure Evil has evolved since his graffiti beginnings while at the same time maintaining the original honesty of expression and never-ending search for freedom.
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Pure Evil in Rome. Courtesy of Wunderkammern Gallery
Pure Evil - Guernica, detail
Pure Evil - Graffiti in Rome. Courtesy of Wunderkammern Gallery
Pure Evil - The Last Marilyn, 2015, detail. Courtesy of Wunderkammern Gallery
All images courtesy of the artist unless credited otherwise