Art dealers

issam Al Mana and Steve Lazarides (right) at the Lazinc gallery they set up last year © Rex Shutterstock

After a couple of years in Mayfair—and 15 years as a street art dealer—Steve Lazarides is leaving gallery life to go it alone.

“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,” says the ever frank Lazarides, who started out in the art world as Banksy’s driver, photographer and, later, dealer.

Lazarides launched his last gallery, Lazinc, in Mayfair with the Qatari magnate Wissam Al Mana in 2018, showing artists including JR, Rammellzee and Jonathan Yeo. But the “snobbery of the art world” and a desire to return to photography and the pop-up shows he put on with Banksy have led him to reconsider his career. Al Mana declined to comment on Lazarides’s departure or the future of Lazinc.

“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. He has now taken on new Soho offices, a few blocks from where he opened his first gallery, on Greek Street, in 2004. Since then there have been galleries on Charing Cross Road and in Fitzrovia.

It is tough in the middle market too, he laments. “I maintain that 75% of galleries will be gone within five years. It’s too expensive,” he says. “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.”

So what now? His first project has been to sort through around 12,000 photographs he took over 11 years with Banksy—by all accounts a riotous time. He is publishing a 252-page book, titled Banksy Captured, next month and setting up a website to sell his photographs. Prices will start at £450. “It’s harking back to Pictures on Walls [the screen-printing business he launched with Banksy], which was about affordable art for everyone,” says Lazarides, who trained as a photographer.

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