As far as Greek last names go, Lazarides doesn’t strike me as all that common. And yet, I can name at least two well-known Lazarides’ already. We all know Mike – he gave us the Blackberry. But do you know Steve? In the art world, you’d better.
Steve Lazarides introduced us to the, now infamous, street artist Banksy and is considered a godfather of sorts to the ‘street art’ movement, bringing little-known artists from the streets into galleries. Lazarides himself avoids classifying this type of art as ‘street’ or ‘urban’, however, preferring the term ‘outsider’.
‘Outsiders’ such as Antony Micallef, Faile, David Choe and Jonathan Yeo regularly showcase their work at the empire of Lazarides galleries in the UK. It’s clear from this eclectic and talented group of artists, Lazarides knows what he likes, and his discerning eye has been the key to his success; his galleries often cited as among the most influential.
When GOTH visited Lazarides’ Rathbone Gallery (a brothel in its previous life), Artists Anonymous showcased the solo exhibit Alice’s Apocalypse. Viewing this series of darkly whimsical paintings was like what I’d imagine an acid trip at a haunted carnival would feel like.
The Lazarides empire is rounded out by 3 galleries – The Rathbone in London, another in Newcastle and a new addition in Wapping – as well as a retail venue, The Outsiders, which sits on Greek street in Soho, converted from the original gallery which opened there in 2006. Their vibe is clearly that art is for everyone, the motto being, “You don’t need a degree in art history to be engaged by the work or enjoy it on the walls of your home”.
In addition to the galleries and shop, Lazarides and his team regularly undertake some pretty ambitious projects that push the boundaries of how art ‘should’ be experienced. Of note are the events that take over the historic Old Vic Tunnels and turn them into a gritty, urban playground for artists and art-lovers alike. In 2011, the event drew inspiration from the ancient Greek beast the Minotaur and combined art installations, music and gourmet dinner by German culinary group, Pret a Diner.
Last month, ‘chaos and mayhem’ reigned supreme at Bedlam, another underground art event inspired by the old London Mental asylum, where installations provoked the audience to contemplate the thin line that separates genius from madness.
Catch the latest exhibition, Lazarides Presents, a showcase at The Rathbone Gallery highlighting their portfolio of Outsider regulars, on now until November 22, 2012.