Final artwork of Sex Pistols artist Jamie Reid unveiled at new exhibition

Jamie Reid, A Lifetime of Radical Gestures, looks back on the life and work of the subversive artist who captured the spirit of punk’s golden era and unveils never-before-seen pieces.

Currently taking place at Brighton’s Enter Gallery, the exhibition draws from Jamie Reid’s Rogue Materials series, which spans the late artist’s creative output from 1972 to 2021. Featuring Sex Pistols flyers, early posters, and the final artwork by Reid before his passing in 2023, it is a fitting tribute to the man who defined the look of anarchy.

As well as pieces depicting a nazified Donald Trump and the swastika-eyed portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, the exhibition also contains incredibly rare prints from 1997. Helen Hiett, Enter Gallery’s Head of Buying, highlights the recently discovered Fuck Forever prints and standout pieces.

“It’s a unique opportunity to view lesser-known works of Reid that continue to explore and challenge cultural and political norms,” she adds.

Why does Reid’s artwork continue to resonate with modern audiences almost 50 years later? Helen points out that while there are corrupt governments and systems that don’t benefit the masses, there will always be a need for his work.

“His art has an ever-present theme of defiance against authority deeply embedded in the punk ethos,” she explains. It resonates not only with fashion and music but also with broader social movements. His ongoing activism, including his participation in movements like Extinction Rebellion, demonstrates his commitment to challenging corrupt systems and advocating for social change.

“He was inspired by nature and the human condition, and his work incorporates spiritual symbolism. It’s multi-dimensional and reflective of universal struggles.”

With a wealth of archive material to choose from, Helen was keen to ensure that the exhibition explored the full narrative of his 50-year career, one that was not confined to his iconic Sex Pistols work. “His extensive catalogue tells a broader story of a lifetime dedicated to politics, protest, creativity, nature, and spirituality,” she says.

“Enter Gallery collaborated with John Marchant, Jamie’s long-time friend and founder of the Arcova trust, to curate this exhibition. The Trust provided 60 framed works from Reid’s Rogue Materials series, which includes pieces from the early 1970s onward.

“This series is particularly significant as it provides a visual journey through decades of Reid’s art, offering a deep dive into his evolving themes and artistic explorations over the years.”

The crown jewel of the exhibition is Reid’s final approved piece, unveiled at the show for the first time. This was made possible with the help of The Arcova Trust, which was created to honour Reid’s legacy and ensure that his work is remembered in line with his wishes.

“His final work, titled Anarchy in the UK, is the last print that the artist approved before his passing,” Helen concludes. “The image is an iconic piece of history; the Anarchy in the UK flag was created originally in 1976 to promote the release of the infamous song of the same name by the UK’s biggest punk band, The Sex Pistols. This flag holds significant historical and cultural value, encapsulating the spirit of the punk movement.”

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