Never one to mince his words, he told The Art Newspaper: “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.”
Lazarides has spent 15 years as a street art dealer, but first entered the art world as Banksy’s driver and photographer, capturing the artist’s “best years”, when he was “full of piss and vinegar. He was young, he was angry, he had something to say.” But, with Banksy’s art now entering the mainstream market with staggering price tags attached, the gallery world has changed for his dealer: “It’s got to the stage where it’s about nothing other than monetary value and I just can’t work on those terms any more,” Lazarides says.
His departure is equally due to his discontent with the “snobbery of the art world” towards street art, harboured not by collectors but by “art journalists, and sniffy galleries that are worried about their stranglehold on the market”.
But what’s next? Lazarides is setting up an art consultancy, but didn’t wish to divulge how heavily his experience of Banksy would feature - “I’ve never really traded on my Banksy knowledge but maybe I will start pitching myself as a world expert,” he said, adding, “everyone else has made money out of this apart from me.“ A 252-page book, Banksy Captured, is in the pipeline, featuring some of the 12,000(!) photographs Lazarides took over 11 years with Banksy, as is a website to sell said prints, starting from £450. Also planned is a three-day show of the photographs in North London and the launch of Off Ends, his new charity aiming to help disadvantaged young people gain experience in the art industry.
Lazinc co-founder Wissam Al Mana declined to comment on the future of the gallery.