Harper's Bazaar March 2016 - Page 199

ART (From top) 28 Millimètres, Portrait d’une Génération, Les Bosquets, Eye See You, Montfermeil, France, 2014, by JR; Steve Lazarides; Kissing Coppers by Banksy. T H E D E V I L’ S A DV O C AT E IMAGES COURTESY STEVE LAZARIDES; EWEN SPENCER He launched Banksy’s career, counts Brad and Angelina as clients, and has paved the way for art’s underdogs. As his London gallery celebrates 10 years, here’s to Steve Lazarides, who revolutionised the industry. FORSOMEONEWHOCALLSHIMSELFANACCIDENTAL amassed a celebrity following of the likes of Jude Law and Christina gallerist, Steve Lazarides has had quite the career. From turning Aguilera; and has grown to represent the next generation of Banksy into a global phenomenon to heading his eponymous underground artists.Take Conor Harrington, the former Irish London-based gallery, which celebrates artists on the fringe and graffiti artist, whose painting Dance with the Devil (£77,500) completes a decade this year, he’s now the foremost authority outsold works of Banksy and Damien Hirst at a Bonham’s on leftfield art. And he has no idea how he got here. How does auction last year. Or portrait artist JonathanYeo, whose portfolio an outsider from Bristol, with no background or connections, includes a commission by media baron Rupert Murdoch and disrupt the art world? a major retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery in 2013 Perhaps some credit goes to a now defunct lifestyle magazine (one that was followed by Rembrandt). Or French ‘photograffeur’ called Sleazenation, which, in the mid-1990s, commissioned Lazarides JR, whom The Times called the hippest street artist since Banksy. “I like innovation. I’m interested in people who just to photograph Banksy. They struck up a friendship, want to create, regardless of whether anyone is buying sold screen prints together, and organised one crazy it, regardless of whether anyone likes it. I don’t care if show after another—one was in a disused squat and they’ve been to art school, if they’re old or young, male featured painted cows; another, Crude Oils, had 200 or female...What I don’t like are whingers, complainers. rats running around the exhibition. The turning I like shit that people understand,” says Lazarides, point for Banksy, and by extension Lazarides, came whose own personal collection includes everything in 2006 with Barely Legal in Los Angeles: An from works by famous artists like Peter Hugo to pieces industrial warehouse, an elephant painted pink and he picked up along the way—but he is passionate gold, and 60,000 visitors in three days, including about communist art. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. “If I sat down and wrote a script about what Since he began his gallery empire in 2006, he has happened between Banksy and I, and given it to a expanded with a flagship five-storey Georgian movie company, they would have thrown it in my townhouse gallery on Rathbone Place, print studios face saying it’s not realistic,” says 47-year-old Lazarides, on Greenwich Peninsula, an online store, and, in who even now recounts the narrative with incredulity 2014, Lazarides Editions at the Mondrian Hotel. in his thick Bristol accent. “I didn’t realise what I had “We didn’t really know what we were doing in the with Banksy then; it was like being caught in the eye beginning. I miss the early days of total and utter of a whirlwind. It’s very difficult to get any madness, of not caring and doing whatever the perspective on it.” hell we wanted. Now that the price of art has “I like innovation. I’m interested in people Their “very, very intense” 12-year relationship gone up, it’s a bit more serious,” he says. who just want to create, regardless of ran its course about eight years ago, but there That Lazarides doesn’t have the burden of a whether anyone is buying it, regardless of wasn’t any animosity. And they still seem to share formalarteducationisperhapsthebiggestdriving a connection that’s undeniable. (Lazarides had force behind the sea of change he’s led over the whether anyone likes it.” to abort his project, a temporary funfair in years. Because he’s had the freedom, the luxury London, because Banksy beat him to it with to do it his way. “We were told time and again Dismaland). The graffiti superstar went on to sell artworks for hundreds of that what we were doing was impossible, that the gallery would fail. But if you’re thousands of pounds each, and Lazarides... well, he created a league of his afraid to fail you will never try anything new. I want to prove to people that own. He co-curated a spooky show, Hell’s Half-Acre, with Kevin Spacey in there is no set route to achieving your goals,” he says. All it takes is guts, instinct, 2010, featuring a chandelier of stuffed pigeons and a syringes-studded globe; and a touch of serendipity. n By Esha Mahajan 199