Street artist Pure Evil will be turning his focus towards the Swinging Sixties this summer, with an exhibition at Proud Chelsea entitled Pure Evil on the King’s Road, running from Thursday June 23 to Sunday August 7. Pure Evil – aka Charles Uzzell-Edwards – has created images of such seminal 1960s figures as Brian Jones (second picture) and Jean Shrimpton (third picture), presented as the nightmare visions of their lovers and former lovers; the subtitles are respectively: Anita Pallenberg’s Nightmare and Michael Cox’s Nightmare.
There is also Twiggy –Michael Witney’s Nightmare (her first husband, first picture) and even HM Queen Elizabeth II, subtitled slightly less gallantly as Prince Philip’s Nightmare (fourth picture). Mick Jagger and John Lennon are present too and the images all feature the “tear” emblem, which is Pure Evil’s way of peering into his subjects’ darker side. “It’s an illustration of the heartbreak and sadness we have all experienced in relationships in the past,” he says.
The artist’s ancestry – he is a descendant of Sir Thomas More – also plays a role in his world view: More was the Lord Chancellor who wrote Utopia and was later beheaded by Henry VIII: “It is only natural that Pure Evil should explore the darker side of the wreckage of Utopian dreams and the myth of the Apocalypse,” says Proud Galleries’ CEO Alex Proud.
The images are all recognisable examples of the artist’s signature style. “Pure Evil combines the humorous appeal of pop and the rebellious nature of urban art to create his new Nightmare series, with Warhol-inspired images of famous faces reflecting our current celebrity-obsessed culture in a style derived from the artist’s days of scrawling graffiti tags in London and California,” says Proud. “Pure Evil is fast becoming a key player in the rise of street art as fine art, following in the wake of Banksy, whose team he worked with on Banksy’s Santa’s Ghetto.”
The gallery location is significant (Proud has three galleries in London): the King’s Road was at the centre of the Chelsea community that dominated the 1960s. Pure Evil himself, however, has become something of a global phenomenon: from a childhood split between London and Silicon Valley and a youthful period as a graphic designer in San Francisco, his work is seen all over the world, from São Paulo to Sydney. The works start at £200 for prints (70cm x 80cm), £600 for hand-finished prints of the same size, £1,500 for a 76cm x 76cm canvas and £2,000 for a 100cm x 100cm canvas.