Pure Evil: “The Temple of Broken Hearts” at London Newcastle Project Space
Artist Pure Evil is a descendant of Sir Thomas More, the infamous Lord Chancellor and author of ‘Utopia’ who was beheaded by King Henry VIII, he inherited his ancestor’s fascination with Dystopia and the mythology that surrounds the Apocalypse. This exploration of the darker side is evident in Pure Evil’s oeuvre, notably in his recent series of crying female icons of contemporary culture that experienced sadness or tragedy during their life, including Sharon Tate and Jackie Kennedy.
Pure Evil’s name is synonymous with his signature tag: fanged bunny rabbits which he started to spray paint after spending 10 years in California as a designer and becoming influenced by West Coast Graffiti artists.
The works in his latest solo exhibition ‘The Temple of Broken Hearts’ are a departure for Pure Evil, and feature imagery that he has not examined before such as Chinese dragons and Buddhist Temples. This new series of 8 paintings were inspired by a very personal tragedy experienced by the artist, which led to a trip to Asia and a spiritual journey in search of healing. The new paintings examine the healing effect of meditation and the transformative effect of ritual, with the act of creating these images representing a cathartic process for the artist.
Pure Evil gave this personal statement: “In January, our beautiful little daughter Bunny passed away in her sleep. It was brutal. Our grief hasn’t gone away but it has changed shape... Since then, my wife and I have been on a spiritual path, and we have been in touch with our daughter, through meditation. She is coming back to us. We have been exploring the idea of past life regression, and reincarnation... We believe bunny will come back to us soon. I believe that death is just a doorway to other lives, and this is something that is compatible with a lot of Buddhist teaching, and also with science...energy cannot be created or destroyed, it just changes...
All of my work has been about tagging a bunny character in the past, but now all of my work has new meaning...I am able to ‘get in the zone’ and heal myself through my art, which is a blessing...without that I would have fallen to pieces I think. We have also been meditating, and we took a long trip to Sri Lanka and Singapore to visit temples and explore meditation there.... One of the spirit guides we have been in touch with told us about a temple in Sri Lanka and urged us to connect with Bunny there...While we were there, we connected with her through meditation, which was profound. She is with us all the time, we feel her as a beam of light, I have felt this warmth in a physical sense...”
The centrepiece of the exhibition is a diptych based on the Buddhist Eight-Fold path to enlightenment. The Eight-fold Path is the fourth of the Four Noble Truths, which were the Buddha’s first teachings. All subsequent teachings flowed from this foundation. The Four Noble Truths; The Noble Truth of the reality of Dukkha as part of conditioned existence (Dukkha meaning ‘that which is difficult to bear’); The Noble Truth that Dukkha has a causal arising (defined as grasping and clinging or aversion); The Noble Truth of the end of Dukkha (Nirvana); The Noble Truth of the Path that leads to Awakening.
Pure Evil has been exhibiting internationally for more than 15 years with exhibitions in Europe, Asia, South Africa, South America and USA. Exhibitions have included; ‘The Nightmare Series’ at The Saatchi Gallery (2014); ‘Pure Evil Double Exposure’ at Culture Gallery in Cape Town (2013); ‘Pure Evil Goes Pop!’ at Corey Helford Gallery, Culver City, USA (2012); and ‘Pure Evil Nightmares’ at La Cantine de Fabourg, Paris (2011).
His paintings have entered the public conscious, even making an appearance on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and being immortalised by much loved British brand Royal Doulton in a series of collectable plates. After a decade in California as a clothing and graphic designer, he became involved in the electronic music scene in San Francisco, later becoming a recording artists in Germany. After moving back to London he got involved with Banksy’s ‘Santas Ghetto’ and created prints for ‘Pictures on Walls’ gallery. He opened up the Pure Evil Gallery in an ancient Dickensian shop in London’s Shoreditch in 2007 and became an accidental gallerist, exhibiting his own work and other artists.