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Pure Evil: Not my circus, not my monkeys – Vernissage

Pure Evil: Not my circus, not my monkeys - Vernissage




Wunderkammern Gallery Milano
Via Nerino 2, Milano

Event Type

The exhibition wil continue until October 15th, 2022

Curated by Giuseppe Pizzuto

Critical text di Mart

The exhibition by British artist Charles Uzzell Edwards, aka PURE EVIL, titled Not my circus, not my monkeys inspired by an obscure Polish expression, showcases the artist’s most famous series, Nightmare. For the first time in Milan, an exhibition of works on paper, canvas and perspex depicting Hollywood stars and celebrities with their faces marked by a characteristic, dark tear. Among them will be Arthur Miller’s Nightmare – Not my circus, not my monkeys, the portrait of Marilyn Monroe that titles the solo exhibition; also, a limited edition of NFT works will be presented.

The Nightmare series draws inspiration from the 1960s, a golden age of American and European cinema, which was shot through with great artistic ferment. Actresses such as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Natalie Wood, and Sharon Tate were at the height of success, while the Pop Art of Warhol and Rosenquist investigated celebrity culture, advertising, and marketing.

There are three main suggestions that led the artist to the conception of the Nightmare series and the Milan exhibition. The first is the books devoted to Pop Art and Andy Warhol’s diaries that Pure Evil browsed through in his father’s library, becoming fascinated by Warhol’s almost manic obsession with creating countless versions of celebrity portraits. The second is an e-mail he received from a Chinese copy village with an attached catalog of all the artworks available for reproduction and immediate purchase. Among them were three works by Andy Warhol: a portrait of Liz Taylor, one of Jackie Kennedy, and an electric chair. Seizing on the irony of reducing the entire career of an artist like Warhol to three endlessly reproducible and cheap subjects, Pure Evil first considered turning himself into a copy village. Finally, the last source of inspiration is the film “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, a cinematic reinterpretation of Edward Albee’s famous play directed by Mike Nichols, in which Liz Taylor and Richard Burton bring to the big screen a couple’s ruthless game of massacre amid alcohol abuse and bourgeois dissatisfaction. The film deeply surprised the Welsh artist, who in 2011 made one of the first subjects in the Nightmare series, “Richard Burton’s Nightmare – Liz Taylor.” Pure Evil immortalizes on a canvas and in a two-color print the face of the actress concealing the sufferings of a complicated love on set and in reality. Just two months after the work was created, in March of that year, Liz Taylor lost her life, and sales of Pure Evil’s work skyrocketed.

“I maintained a great simplicity in making the entire collection,” declares Pure Evil. In the female portraits, the features are essential, hand-cut with a sharp blade into three layers of stencils and laboriously “sprayed” to build the faces. The eyes drip deep painted tears and represent broken dreams of love.”

“A few days after the death of Claes Oldenburg, one of the last great pioneers of American pop art (that leaves Jasper Johns who is currently 92 years old), it is clear that the message conceived in the exciting postwar years is still as relevant today as ever,” Marta Silvi states in her critical text. Disseminated and camouflaged in contemporaneity, many artists have perpetuated its revolutionary scope by evoking or reinterpreting it. Among these is Pure Evil, born Charles Uzzell Edwards, who, born in South Wales, precisely in the United States appropriated the pop message by dissolving it in street language and systematized it, once he returned to London, in a full-fledged commercial gallery in Shoreditch that bears his name. In The Nightmare Series Pure Evil draws from the reservoir of icons dear to the pop imaginary (the divas, the influential and damned characters of Warholian obsessions) to dilute their solidity in a simplification of somatic features and subtle silhouettes, but pregnant with the tears of broken desires.”

Pure Evil with the Nightmare series only seemingly embraces celebrity culture, he looks at these icons of film and music with a disenchanted and melancholy eye. Despite their success, their lives are laden with pain and torment that the artist encapsulates in a tear.

Media partner: Artuu,, FACE MagazineTechnical partner

Technical partner: Abbazia di Busco