Reported by Sichi
Industrial steam-cleaning couldn’t get the dark shadowy nature that is 2000AD out of my mind. It is gritty, raw and tinged with pure evil – so what better was to celebrate the characters from it’s pages than ZARJAZ! Judge Dredd declares “I Am The Law” from an abundance of artwork by over 40 artists. The exhibition space lends itself well to the show – the walls have been stripped back to bare brick and concrete, giving it a very industrial landscape feel.
The ground floor level is a celebration of past glories of 2000AD artwork. Original pen and ink work is framed, showing the skills of artists including Brendan McCarthy. Mick McMahon, Robin Smith, Ramon Sola, Simon Bisley and Trigo.
The stand out piece here is the acid green wireframe car “Perpswagen” by Mildstyle (Benedict Radcliffe) [www.mildstyle.tk], suitably cornered off by ‘police line’ tape. It is also here that delights of new interpetations emerge. Display cases of new tshirts (£25 from Playlounge, produced by Puma) sit alongside memorabilia from 2000AD’s archive. On the opening night a live drawing event was in action by Japan based artist Hiroki Tsukuda as he created “Mega City One”, a piece that continued to be developed over the period of the ZAJAZ! exhibition.
Then there is the walk into the underground… A raw stairwell leads downstairs to the basement, as a plush Judge Death by TADO hangs above you – he looks ready to pounce and tell you his name.
All the artwork is of the highest quality and the open brief to reinterpret 2000AD characters has produced many original results. “Rogue Trooper” by Symbiotics is an amazing piece of polished metal emanating a neon blue light. Zoltar the Magnificent presents a dark and distrubing piece titled “Judge Caligula”, with its elaborate frame – topped with winged skull. Triclops’s ABC Warriors tribute is a series of covers for the ABC Warriors comic book title, plus 4 canvases and a giant fist hammering it’s way through a door.
David Vallade used 8 playlounge paper bags, turning them into “2000AD Slang”. Bounty Hunter recreates “Judge Death”, Mark James presents “Mek Quake”, Doktor A captures and keeps “Nemesis”. JAKe has 3 boards of “Dr & Quinch” and Jon Burgerman brings his doodle skills to a gang of “SD Muties”. Also on offer is Pete Fowler’s “Nemesis” and Playskewl give his touch to the classic antics of “Judge Dredd”.
Stand out pieces for me were the 4 framed miniatures by Mr Clement, tiny characters so small in an expanse of paper it was impossible to tell what they were saying and doing. Also “Johnny Alpha” by Dreph gave out a white-eyed stare from a huge canvas. Defacto’s “Killer Clown” duo and Serge Seidlitz’s “Dead Man” were also deserved masterpieces.
The abundance of artwork is a great sight. Showing that comic book culture has hit upon many people. 2000AD can be proud that its characters have crawled into the imaginations of so many great artists. The passion for exhibiting is proved and the organisation of this event is a great achievement for Playlounge. The art pieces displayed downstairs are all up for sale. Inevitably, it will be the hunger of buyers who will hold the key to whether an exhibition scene grows stronger in the UK.