Pure Evil was born in the form of Charles Uzzell Edwards in South Wales–the year most commonly cited is 1968. He grew up in a world of art thanks to his father, Welsh painter John Uzzell Edwards. The father’s artwork undoubtedly impacted the son, demonstrating a range of influences from cubism to minimalism, from Matisse to Chagall.
The physical and cultural landscape of the 1990’s U.S. intrigued and beckoned the young Pure Evil–upon completing his studies in graphics and fashion he set off for California’s West Coast. He established himself in San Francisco, working for the Anarchic Adjustment clothing label as a designer. He produced countless t-shirt graphics for screen printing, dropped in on the west coast party scene, and dropped a lot of psychedelics. Pure Evil also became involved in the musical fabric of San Francisco and worked as an electronic recording artist for Peter Namlook’s ambient music label, FAX (based in Frankfurt, Germany).
Street art of course proved to be Pure Evil’s most important artistic discovery during those 10 years. Inspired by the initial influence of Twist and Reminisce, with a dose of skate culture thrown in, Pure Evil graced freeways with “Dump Bush” slogans and tagged gun stores as “Murderers.” But there was one image he couldn’t fulfill with graffiti or sketches–Pure Evil longed for “dirty London.”
He returned to his homeland in the new millennium. It was no coincidence that fang-sporting bunnies began appearing on the streets of “The Smoke.” The artist explained several years later in a BBC Blast interview that the bad bunny showed up one day in his sketchbook. The image came from a hare that he had dispatched in his youth and had returned to haunt him for his past sins. The label “Pure Evil” went bag and baggage with the symbol, and the artist adopted the new name.
Pure Evil always considered the moniker a bit over the top, and it has long since evolved into something of a joke for the artist. It does, however, justify his artistic excursions into the darker side of people and their social ills, a worldview that stems from his Catholic upbringing and is dominated by the theme good versus evil.
The symbol proliferated, as rabbits often do, and so did Pure Evil. The artist began an association with the people involved in Bansky’s “Santa’s Ghetto,” and he undertook creating prints for Pictures on Walls. When the U.S. denied Pure Evil’s application for re-entry, the artist set up shop in a small shed in the Black Mountains of Wales. After a productive period he moved back to London and prepared for the first Pure Evil solo exhibitions in 2006 and 2007. The success of those shows enabled him to open the Pure Evil Gallery in Shoreditch in London’s East End in late 2007.
Today, Pure Evil enjoys the success of a street artist as global brand. The artistic integrity remains just as much in evidence as his commercial good fortune. The reputation of The Pure Evil Gallery has grown remarkably, due to its support of independent artists. The sound studio built in the gallery’s basement sends its output to a website for free downloading. He found time to appear on the BBC version of “The Apprentice” during its 2012 season, all the while maintaining a monthly radio program, leading workshops and presenting lectures. And then there’s always artwork to produce.