Charles Uzzell-Edwards at Landesi

Nestled within the scenic isles of the Galle Fort and amongst the charming splendor of Landesi, an intimate Meet-The-Artist session spotlighting Charles Uzzell-Edwards flourished. Engaging a remarkably varied demographic of people drawn in from the Galle Literary Festival, the Art Trail became a revolving door into contemporary Sri Lankan and international contemporary art world for people visiting from all across the world, from tourists to Sri Lankans across regions within the country. Landesi by Nyne Hotels on Middle Street became one of the stopping points for art enthusiasts and travellers alike within the Galle Fort, as their luxury lounge hosted Charles Uzzell-Edwards, known as ‘Pure Evil’, a London-based graffiti artist and owner of Pure Evil Gallery on 27th January 2024.

For a lively hour, the atmosphere of Landesi thrummed with the voices and stories of this intimate get together. Charged by the artistic ambiance of the contemporary artworks adorning the walls of the hotel, a warmth and a burgeoning ease seemed to generate through this session as the down-to-earth Uzzell-Edwards connected with the gathered guests through stories from his life, allowing those there to glimpse the multitude of facets that comprise the man behind his craft-- delving into the artist, the humanitarian, the father and so much more. 

Elaborating on his broad-spanning collection of graffiti-style portraits titled “100 Actresses” that exhibited at the Charleston in the Galle Fort for the duration of the Art Trail, Uzzell-Edwards revealed insight to his beginnings as an artist, and his journey into the craft of graffiti-style art, citing the Californian graffiti art scene and culture as inspirations that burgeoned his rapid and ever-evolving love for the dynamic and expressive medium. His exhibition that was displayed at The Charleston exalted Uzzell-Edward's vibrant manipulation of colour, depicting stunning Warhol-esque portraits of famous actresses rendered in eye-catching jewel tones contrasted against deep blacks, blues and bright whites. The exhibition encapsulated only a microcosm of his entire behemoth collection which encompasses around a hundred portraits, and the curated selection of works that graced the halls of The Charleston were chosen on the merit of the artist’s standards– as he revealed in this session. The portraits he had selected were in his eyes his ‘finished’ works. He elaborated on his personal artistic stance about being ‘finished’ with an artwork, explaining that  his ‘100 Actresses’ series had been such a longstanding practice of repetitive creation; requiring a steadiness of the hand and a fluidity of motion that eased with every new portrait, that the act of creating new works for this collection had evolved into a process of striving to achieve seamlessness. ‘Finished’ works were in fact ones that had been created multiple times over, or others that were miraculously brought together whole; complete and satisfyingly finished on the first try. Uzzell-Edward's boundless insight into his collection and its inception suffused the guests’ approach to his works with meaning, and revealed the hidden depths behind every one of his completed artworks. 

Charles Uzzell-Edwards at Landesi, Galle Fort 

The conversation between the group of guests and Uzzell-Edwards flowed organically between glasses of bright refreshment offered by the attentive Landesi staff, enthusiastic in its range across a myriad of topics, flitting between the art-inclined and transitioning into more personal anecdotes about his life that has in turn affected his artistry. One such story lies in the turbulent origins of his enigmatic moniker ‘Pure Evil’. The name arose from a tale Uzzell-Edwards regaled from his childhood, born from the first and only time he had gone hunting as a child– the first and only time he had shot a rabbit. As a boy, the image of the rabbit he had shot haunted him, horrified by the act of hunting an innocent creature the phrase “Pure Evil” came to mind, and had stuck with him into adulthood when he began pursuing his artistic career. The image of the rabbit has become emblematic of Uzzell-Edward’s artist signature, and the motif can be found scattered throughout his various works, at times foregrounded as well as lurking amongst the backgrounds of his works as an easter-egg to his own history. 

Branching off from this, the artist indulged the guests– some who were parents themselves– with entertaining stories about his young son, and the impact fatherhood has had on the reinforcement of his core passion towards not only the promoting of art and art culture around the world, but also his deep investment in the welfare of children. In this session, he delved into the humanitarian campaigns his London-based gallery Pure Evil Gallery has facilitated around various regions of the world that married his two aforementioned passions harmoniously– the Pure Evil Drawing Club. Hosted across regions such as Sweden, Ukraine, Dubai, Paris, Cambodia, Melbourne and Jakarta among others, Uzzell-Edwrdas has made it his mission to spread the joys, and therapeutic expressions key to creative outlets like drawing to children around the world, aiming to facilitate creative outlets for children from a range of backgrounds, whether it be from classrooms, to those affected by war and strife. As part of the Art Trail programme, he extended his repertoire to Sri Lanka, hosting a Pure Evil Drawing Club as the final event of the Art Trail 2024 in the Galle Fort. 

Spotlighted for 4 days, the Art Trail, Galle Literary Festival was hosted within the ancient citadel of the Fort from 25 - 28 January 2024, and featured a dynamic visual arts programme organized by ARTRA that ran parallel to the Festival’s Literary and Gourmet programmes. ARTRA Magazine launched our latest edition “Galle Fort in the Contemporary” E66 during the festival on 27th January, which endeavours to introspect the Galle Fort’s persona by delving into the many facets of the space as it stands today– from ordinary components that make up its daily cycles to the piercing truths of its presence through paintings, drawings, mix-media, photography and more by contemporary artists, architects and curators such as Pala Pothupitiya, Jagath Weerasinghe, Branka Ridicki and Channa Daswatte among others. To purchase the latest edition of ARTRA Magazine “Galle Fort in the Contemporary”, visit 

Charles Uzzell-Edwards, born in South Wales in 1968, is a graffiti artist known by the moniker ‘Pure Evil’ who has exhibited globally. In the early 1990s he was one of the designers for Anarchic Adjustment with Alan Brown and Nick Philip and released electronic ambient music on Pete Namlook FAX label, recording “Octopus” 1, 2 & 3 and ‘Dada’ (under the pseudonym Drum Machine Circle) solo, producing ‘A New Consciousness’ and ‘Create’ 1 & 2 with Pete Namlook, recording ‘Supergroup’ with Thomas Bullock, and ‘Audio’ with Tetsu Inoue and Daimon Beail. The Pure Evil Gallery is run by Uzzell-Edwards and located in Shoreditch, London.

Written by Kavinu Cooray


29th February, 2024 Visual Art | Paintings