“It was terrible,” recalled the famed British street artist’s former manager Steve Lazarides, who this week shared with HuffPost a series of newly resurfaced images that he took of the March 2001 event, “Peace Is Tough,” at The Arches.
“It was really, really well put together, a really tight fucking show. It was a magical thing,” Lazarides remembered, saying the art wasn’t the issue.
Promotional problems meant only 25 people came on opening night, said Lazarides. The rest of the run didn’t fare much better, and ultimately it became the only show by Banksy that “wasn’t totally mobbed,” said Lazarides, then a facilitator for the artist who later became his right-hand man until they split in 2008.
“I felt really bad for him,” he said.
The lackluster response to the show prompted the artist to “punish the town,” Lazarides said. “We all got pissed and went to bed,” he said. “He went out. We woke up the next morning, he’d stenciled the whole place.”
Banksy’s original “Flower Thrower” painting was just one of the standout pieces. He shared the bill with Jamie Reid, who created artwork for the Sex Pistols punk band.
The failure of the show “definitely spurred” Banksy on, said Lazarides. “He’s not one to make a mistake twice,” he said. “He’s a quick learner. Not much gets by him. I think it put a bit of grit in him. He never fails. He’s in it to win.”
That said, Lazarides admitted he’d been “totally surprised” by Banksy’s return to Glasgow.
“It’s like going back to the scene of your biggest failure,” he said.
The motive? “Revenge,” he suggested. “I can’t think of any other reason to do it. They are not the only venue that would have offered him the chance, or maybe, shockingly they are. You never know.”
Banksy’s current Glasgow exhibition showcases his art and stencils from the start of his career, when Lazarides was a key member of his inner circle.
It’s a “roll call” of his work, said Lazarides, who said he was “looking forward” to seeing the show before it ends on Aug. 28.
He said he’ll likely recognize many of the pieces. In 2019, Lazarides released his “Banksy Captured” book of photographs documenting the 11 years he spent working with the artist. He is now reimagining many of those works in different artistic ways.
Banksy, whose identity has never been officially confirmed, said in publicity for the show that he’d “kept these stencils hidden away for years, mindful they could be used as evidence in a charge of criminal damage.”
Now that the moment appears to have passed, he said he was now “exhibiting them in a gallery as works of art. I’m not sure which is the greater crime.”