Art gallerist and impressario Steve Lazarides has never played by the art world’s rules. Famously working with Banksy before setting up his own galleries in Soho and Rathbone Place he’s now jumped up into the big leagues as, in partnership with art lover, collector and investor, Wissam Al Mana, he’s opening up a massive and opulent space in the heart of Mayfair. Under the new moniker Lazinc, the first show opens on January 12th next year and features one of the world’s hottest artists, and who Laz gave his first ever show to in 2008, French photographer, JR.
So you’re finally in Mayfair Steve!
[laughs] I’ve DREAMED of coming to Mayfair! Actually I did want to come to Mayfair and shake the place up but then I had second thoughts and changed my mind. Then we couldn’t find a space and I started worrying too much about things that I’ve never worried about in my life, like ‘what will people think of us moving here?’ Then the more I looked at the market I realised that the only person that is really going to care about that is me and five idiots on a forum saying, “f*cking Lazarides, selling out and going to f*cking Mayfair.”
Did you look at any other premises before settling on Sackville Street?
I was offered the Haunch of Venison building for almost the same money as here but the trouble is there isn’t one single good wall in the whole place. And the only way to have done it was to take the front bit, where Christie’s have an entrance, and sublet it and just have the gallery at the back. I didn’t like that polished concrete, white-walled box look either. It’s not what I wanted. I’m quite happy with this place! We’ve got four-metre high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows.
Other than the investment, what has Wissam brought to the table?
Do you know what? It’s really enjoyable having another person. It’s lonely doing it on your own. I’m not joking, you’ve not really got anyone to talk to. Your staff are still staff at the end of the day, no matter how long you’ve worked with them and how friendly you are. But when the sh*t’s really hitting the fan, it’s nice to have someone to sit down with and discuss things. I trust his eye very much, which is rare for me. It’s like he’s a breath of fresh air really.
Are you going to have the same crowds as before, with their hoodies and roll ups?
I think so, I think it’ll be the same mixture of people coming along as came to the other galleries, with a few added extras thrown in who can afford to buy the artwork. I think it’s important to have both sides coming along. I’d be horrified if the old crowd felt that they weren’t welcome here. It would really be self-defeating. my thing is that everyone’s welcome at all times. Apart from on a Sunday 6pm. Countryfile’s on then and I am not leaving that. I love John Craven.
Who made that baseball bat with nails sticking out of it that you’re holding?
Sage Vaughn. Do you know what? He sent me two when my twins were born. At what point do you think I’m ever going to be able to give them to my two kids? I’m wearing an original Paris 68 riot cop helmet too.