Zevs: "The Big Oil Splash" at Lazarides Gallery

Aug 26, 2016 3:46PM

French artist Zevs explores the corporate pollution of the 21st century

The glossy surfaces and vivid colors of the artist Zevs's acrylic paintings have inevitably been catching the attention of those passing by the Lazarides Rathbone gallery this August. The Parisian provocateur's new show "The Big Oil Splash" focuses on identifiable corporations and explores their impact on society. 

Zevs borrows the mis-en-scène from David Hockney's iconic painting A Bigger Splash (1967), but the geometric lines of Hockney's peaceful view are interrupted by vibrant depictions of oil oozing down into the pool from the logos of major oil companies. Further accentuating this ecological commentary, the exhibition contains an installation in which the logo of the giant Total appears to drip into a jacuzzi filled with oil.

The second part of the exhibition takes the visitor behind a mysterious black curtain, into a dark room filled with brightly coloured monochromes. The artworks are brought to life when a whirling sunbed installation lights up, activating the UV paintings hidden on the canvases. The images of the American dream briefly show themselves to the viewer, only to disappear again when the sunbed switches off. These meditative works represent the fleeting nature of the illustrated idyllic scenarios and further underline the overtake of consumerism and corporate culture.

Zevs, whose real name is Aguirre Schwarz, started his artistic experiments in the 1990s street art scene. His best known works are arguably those of the "liquidated" series, which feature the logos of world-renowned brands depicted dripping down from the canvases—the perception of their stability and permanence twisted, their modern tribal power ripped apart. This unique mix of street art, conceptualism, and vandalism has become Zevs's signature. With "The Big Oil Splash," Zevs demonstrates his transition into a new artistic phase, whilst preserving the same powerful spirit of anti-authoritarianism and rebellion that makes his works so relevant, recognisable, and compelling.