Pure Evil is one of the familiar faces of the British street art scene both for his own art and for The Pure Evil Gallery that he runs in Shoreditch. Tim Hans met with Pure Evil at his gallery/studio for the latest in our continuing series of photo-portraits of artists by Tim, and Caroline asked Pure Evil about art and his gallery.
Caroline: Do you think it’s important for artists to have a sort of trademark or logo?
Pure Evil: No, I think artists who stick to the same recognizable thing and just do it again and again are being boring. This is ironic because I repeatedly draw bunnies everywhere. I don’t see that as a logo, it’s a tag. I was watching a film about David Bowie the other night and I got this from it which is very good advice. HOW TO BE A GREAT ARTIST – Change the diversity of what you do at a mind boggling rate. Be prodigious and act as a lightning rod for your time. Bowie did it, I want to achieve something similar, just by doing a whole bunch of crazy different stuff.
CC: What inspires you to create? Where do your ideas come from?
PE: They kind of bombard me from everywhere.. its that whole ‘being a lightning rod’ idea…There’s a flash and then it’s embedded in my cranium. It might be a sentence in a book I’m reading. It might be an image on Tumblr. It might be something I misheard but decided the new form of the phrase is interesting. It might be from a dream. It might be something that I saw and then promptly forgot and then later on thought of it as an original idea.
I just did a check through my history to see what I have been looking at in the past week :
- an awesome video by Adam Curtis
- a picture of Danny DeVito on Chat Roulette
- a cool music clip
- some art that looked better unfinished than finished which made me go hmmmm
- the discog for a label i’m working with
- pictures of Brigitte Bardot
- and some more pictures of Scarlett Johansen. In a cat suit.
- artwork by Roman Opalka… He drew numbers all his life that slowly whited out..
- and some more rad shit from my ‘RAD SHIT’ folder
CC: What was it like being raised by a father who is an artist?
PE: He only took me to the cinema once, to see “LIVE AND LET DIE” which was awesome to watch as a kid, but boy he took me to a lot of art museums and we saw a lot of celtic standing stones all over Europe. It was great being surrounded by Picasso’s and Pop Art when I was growing up. I loved seeing how he never stopped painting EVER. It’s really inspiring… he’s probably painting right now.
CC: What was starting your own gallery like?
PE: It was totally inspired by Aaron Rose’s Alleged Gallery. That was the blueprint, that and Santa’s Ghetto… Just get a space, paint the walls white and hey presto! You have a gallery. I didn’t even think of keeping it going for more than 2 weeks, but it just seemed like fun. Finding a whole basement that could be used to make art and music was a bonus, and the area is smack bang in the middle of street art central which is pretty cool. I call myself the accidental gallerist though, working out how to actually run it and make it work in the long run was a bit of work, but I just looked at Leo Castelli and what an amazing job he did with Pop Art in the 60’s… he’s a bit of a guru. Read Leo and His Circle. It’s an eye opening book.
CC: Your creativity is pretty multifaceted. Could you talk about the different mediums you use in your artwork? Or about the projects you’ve worked on besides visual arts?
PE: I like spray paint quite a bit. Right now I’m having a lot of fun doing freehand spray stuff and layering OCD tags on top of each other to make randomness. I also like using Krink which moves so beautifully. Then there’s neon which is bloody beautiful to look at and because it comes from signage it’s a perfect medium for street art, which is street signage. I’ve got a neon in a contemporary auction in Paris which is quite humbling because it’s in there with complete legends like Victor Vasarely and Kenneth Noland. Making a genre jump is pretty exciting. Being stuck in one box is tedious. My baby sits in a little brightly coloured doughnut for about half an hour and then she just gets bored and wants some boob. Street Art is the doughnut, Contemporary art is the boob.
I’m quite into making films, just short shonky stuff, and I’m looking into using 16mm just because it’s beautiful and analog. In the basement we have an amazing music studio. It kicks ass. Here’s the music stuff. I’ve got an album called A NEW DAWN coming out in July and another coming out soon after called THE NATIONAL ARCHIVE. All art movements have a soundtrack and were making ours in-house.
CC: Any upcoming projects we should look forward to?
PE: No. Fear them all. Actually I had a baby called Bunny recently and she is going to be something….
Photos by Tim Hans