Beautiful brutality: 'BRUTAL' by Lazarides & The Vinyl Factory Opening Night

October 15, 2013
Yesterday evening I headed down to 180 The Strand for the opening night of BRUTAL by Lazarides & The Vinyl Factory. "A BRUTAL show in a beautiful building for brutal times" said Steve Lazarides of this showcase of savage paintings, murals, film, dynamic installations, and dance interventions all of which I missed---apparently there was a man dislocating his shoulders for the amusement of all and sundry, which Diana exagerrated "He'll break his arms if you ask him to!"---but for a glimpse of a topless man in a gas mask casually wheeling his bike past.
I ran into good friends, acquaintances both new and old, and had a brief flirtation with a very handsome presenter with an illustrious career who obviously I'd never heard of because I live in a self-centric bubble. Oh and there were also very important art industry people who asked me what I did. I may have definitely said "I'm an illustrator who also draws comics but I'd really like to try my hand as a director!" and then showed them an Instagram video I took of my Romanian gypsy sisters and Jess twerking against a wall to Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 in motorcycle helmets and brandishing tools. It is art! How is it any less bizarre than the wares on display at the exhibition?!

Pictures don't really do the sprawling space of 180 The Strand justice, but I must keep my captions brief as I have to catch a Eurostar to Paris in a few hours. Sadly what was to be a bobo (bohemian bourgeois) crawl all over Montmarte on absinthe fuelled hallucinations with The Right Dishonourable Max Clarke wasn't quite to be, he's only being held prisoner in Kabul thanks to Eid. No matter, India is coming with me in his place. We're going to lie on the floors of Gucci and Louis Vuitton hollering "When I die bury me in the Gucci store! When I die bury me in the LV store!"

So yes, imagine a dark cavern engulfed in shadows but for little illuminated corners and walls where installations, sculpture, and paintings hang eerily, like spectres emerging in the night.

Don't be deceived by the brightness of some of the pictures, that has more to do with my Leica's superior low-light ability and less to do with the actual atmosphere of the show, which was really quite dark. The effect of it is quite overwhelming, that is to say one finds oneself overwhelmed by the darkness, and feels as small as a child stumbling around a pitch-black manor house with naught but a candle.

Although it wasn't all scary, in fact the large-scale video installations were rather soothing.

This one in particular was very hypnotic, the ripples on the lake and the rustling of the grass drew me into the distant, unreachable horizon, and I was quite prepared to walk into the water if I could. I have always been drawn to bodies of waters underground, like lakes in coves, sheltered lagoons, flooded tunnels, and swimming pools in basement. I find it so peaceful, perhaps it reminds me of the womb, or maybe I'm not as much of a fire sign (Leo) as I think I am...maybe they got it wrong and I'm an Aquarius...

The offerings in the VIP areas were less divisive, I found, less extreme and less polarising in scale or content, rather being more 'buyer friendly', the sort of thing you'd hang in your new house...although I suppose some would go for giant murals of animals stripped to the bone. 

I mistook this group of logs for seats and perched myself on them and put my glass on it before being chased away like the pesky little fly that I am. Although that doesn't beat the time Max smoked a Damien Hirst at the Tate...he picked a cigarette from the giant ashtray, light it up and watched millions go up in smoke. Quite literally.

The exhibition calls itself 'Brutal', but I prefer to say visceral,  as brutality for me implies a harsh, cruel thing devoid of any beauty. And I did find it all---fine, most of it---very beautiful, so I suppose if I must use its name I shall call it Beautiful Brutality.