Biography of Pure Evil
Pure Evil, also known as Charles Uzzell-Edwards, is a graffiti and urban artist from England. The son of famed Welsh painter, John Uzzell-Edwards, Pure Evil doesn’t fit into many of the same boxes that his fellow urban artists often do. That can be from his background (from a family of prominent artists and saints that stretch back all the way to Sir Thomas More) to his subversion of many urban artist tropes. He sees many urban artists falling into the same snobbery and gatekeeping culture that they criticize in ‘high art’ artists’ work.
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“I don’t really fit the stereotype of the urban street artist,” he has said in a recent interview. “I like opera and am quite happy to talk on Radio 3 about Kenneth Clark and Civilisation, because I don’t want people to feel you have to be one kind of person to fit into any kind of movement.”
Pure Evil has a background in fashion and graphics. While a native of the UK, a move to California in the 1990s is what triggered Pure Evil’s street art. After a decade refining his craft there, he returned to London and began painting his trademark character — a vampiric-looking bunny all around the city. It was this move that has given him much of his fame.
These days Pure Evil boasts over 50,000 followers on Instagram, routinely curates solo shows around the globe, and has been the recipient of numerous awards and residencies.
What kind of art does Pure Evil make?
Pure Evil is primarily both a graffiti and gallery artist, though he has also contributed tracks for electronic music, video projects, and his own series of art books. While he is best known for his graffiti art, he often juxtaposes this with his family history — which includes eight saints. This seemingly incongruous pairing makes for art that is cheeky, irreverent, and hard to pin down. More and more often Pure Evil has used his art to contemplate the place of urban and graffiti art in a world that increasingly seeks to commercialize these forms. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Pure Evil doesn’t reject the commercial aspects of the art world. He has collaborated with several artists, including the Talking Heads in 2020.
Pure Evil Original Art for Sale at Auction: America’s Nightmare – Stars and Stripes, early 21st century. Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 39 x 39 inches (99.1 x 99.1 cm). Offered in the 2021 March 3 Urban Art Monthly Online Auction featuring the Benham Collection #16168.
His pieces are often psychedelic combinations of pop art, graffiti culture, and other general weirdness. He often explores these themes in his Nightmare Paintings series, which features famous pop culture icons bleeding from their eyes. Most recently Pure Evil utilized images of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince, Jackie Kennedy, and Audrey Hepburn — with tropes like Mickey Mouse ears or the Union Jack superimposed onto their likeness.
What are the most recognizable Pure Evil designs, themes, or characters?
Pure Evil has two large themes that he comes back to over and over again — the first is a character that comes from Pure Evil’s youth, the other a Warholian remix of pop culture icons. Both of these ideas are at the heart of Pure Evil’s work and as such represent some of the most sought-after pieces in his oeuvre.
Vampire Rabbit – By far the most iconic of Pure Evil’s recurring characters or themes, the Vampire Rabbit has its roots in a traumatic moment from Pure Evil’s past. As a youth, the young artist shot a rabbit in the countryside, killing it. That image, plus the fact that it’s easy to tag has led Pure Evil to adopt it as his mascot.
I’ve always regretted this terrible deed and the idea is that the rabbit is coming back to haunt me,” Pure Evil says. “The great thing is, you can do it in about five seconds. If you are running through the streets of Moscow at night you can just do a quick bunny on the side of a hoarding and run away”
Nightmare Paintings – Pure Evil’s most recent series, Nightmare Paintings have also become quite popular at auction. They feature pop culture icons like Prince or Audrey Hepburn, with bleeding eyes and a colorful combination of tagging images layered on top of them. These stencil and spray paint concoctions are extremely colorful, bright, and have a great sense of humor about them. Routinely these sell between $1,000 and $2,000 making them a great entry point for many collectors.
What types of Pure Evil paintings are the most valuable?
Pure Evil’s work is priced at a much more accessible price point than many of his contemporaries. His top three pieces are Infinite Neon Butterfly (2012), Pandas Rock (2007), and JFK’s Nightmare (PLASTICS) – 2015. Of these, only the last is a representation of Pure Evil’s famed Nightmare Paintings series. Infinite Neon is a multimedia project which includes an infinity mirror, an electrical system, and a transformer to create an infinitely repeating butterfly image. Pandas Rock is a stencil on canvas featuring, you guessed it, pandas. JFK’S Nightmare (Plastics) is a plexiglass plate cut and fixed on plexiglass which features Jackie Kennedy bleeding from her eyes on a red background.
What’s the value of original Pure Evil paintings vs prints?
Pure Evil is the rare artist whose prints are nearly as valuable as his other work. Many of his highest-selling pieces at auction have been stencils and screen prints. This is for a number of reasons. The first is that one of his most recent (and most famous) series is the Nightmare Paintings which are frequently represented in a screenprint. The second is that many of Pure Evil’s other best-known works are actual graffiti on the streets of London — which don’t come up at auction with any regularity. Suffice to say, if you can get your hands on a Pure Evil screenprint, it’s highly recommended.
How to get started collecting original Pure Evil paintings?
The best way to get a Pure Evil painting or screen print is to look up what is available at auction. Is it that simple? Indeed, it is. Pure Evil’s pieces have been coming to auction with increasing frequency the last few years. That’s good news, as his star has also risen considerably within the ranks of contemporary graffiti artists. His work represents a great starting point for many collectors who are just starting to explore the urban and graffiti artist space.
What are some Pure Evil paintings sold by Heritage Auctions?
The most expensive Pure Evil painting sold at a Heritage Auction is Floating Audrey (2018) from Pure Evil’s Nightmare Painting series for $2,000 on November 4th, 2019. It is signed and dated, with only mild edge wear. The piece itself is a great example of a desirable Pure Evil work — with bold colors, an iconic image of Audrey Hepburn, and his trademark tagging style displayed prominently.
SOLD FOR: $2,000 – Pure Evil, Floating Audrey (2018)
SOLD FOR: $1,750 – Pure Evil, Audrey Mouse Club (2018).
SOLD FOR: $1,625 – Pure Evil, Brexit Queen (early 21st century)
SOLD FOR: $1,562.50 – Pure Evil, Monochrome Zhang Ziyi with Silver Tags (2019)
Pure Evil vs Alec Monopoly
Pure Evil’s work grades out to be much less expensive than some of his peers like Alec Monopoly or Banksy. That’s good news for beginning collectors or someone looking to get in early on an artist’s career.
In a head to head matchup, Alec Monopoly comes out well ahead. Pure Evil’s highest-selling piece, Infinite Neon Butterfly, sold for $9,455 at auction. Conversely, Alec Monopoly’s highest-selling piece at Heritage Auctions is Mr. Monopoly (date N/A) which sold for $51,250 at auction.
Read More about Contemporary Artist Values
Read this article for more info on street and urban artist values, and check out our guides for these artists: