Steve Lazarides, Banksy’s former agent, and co-founder of London-based Lazinc gallery, is walking away from the gallery world. Speaking to the Art Newspaper, he expressed frustrations with the “snobbery of the art world” and the difficulty of being in the mid-market range.
“I never fucking wanted to be a gallerist, I never wanted to sell fucking paintings. The only reason I did it was to promote a subculture that was being overlooked, and that’s gone now,” he lamented.
Lazarides, a trained photographer, fell into the art world almost by sheer chance. Once Banksy’s driver, he was commissioned to photograph him in 1997. Since then, he worked with Banksy on many projects before eventually launching Lazinc gallery in London. The gallery was launched in 2018 with Qatari business magnate Wissam Al Mana. The gallery has famously shown works by Invader, JR, Jonathan Yeo, and Banksy as well.
“It’s got to the stage where the gallery world is about nothing other than monetary value and I just can’t work on those terms any more,” Lazarides says. “I maintain that 75% of galleries will be gone within five years. It’s too expensive,” he added. “The only way for them to keep going is from secondary market sales and there’s only a finite number of people who can be flipping Warhols and Basquiats.”
As for his next project, Lazarides wants to return to photography and the pop-up shows he started off doing with Banksy. His first project will be to go through over 12,000 photographs he took in the past 11 years with Banksy. He is also publishing a book, titled Banksy Captured, next month and will be selling his photographs online. Prices will start at £450.
“It’s harking back to Pictures on Walls, which was about affordable art for everyone,” he said, referring to the screen-printing business he launched with Banksy.
Speaking of his photography, Lazarides thinks he captured Banksy’s best years, when the artist was painting “free and unfettered”, he said. “He was full of piss and vinegar. He was young, he was angry, he had something to say.”
The duo worked very closely together when Banksy was starting off. Whenever he would create a new piece of street art, Lazarides would be summoned to photograph it. Since then, Banksy’s work has risen to the top of the mainstream market, with both Sotheby’s and Christie’s holding online sales of his prints.
Lazarides doesn’t buy all that however, saying that all of Banksy’s major works are in private collections. “There has never been a significant work come up at auction because the auction houses do not understand it.”