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PEZ - meet one of rave culture's most important artists

The futuristic, surreal and sometimes disturbing work of Steve Perry (aka PEZ) captured the twisted essence of the acid house scene

David Blake

Date published: 13th Aug 2019

"Now they took everyone by surprise," explains Steve Perry (aka PEZ), pointing to a 90s club poster displaying two floating space babies, cut into pieces. "Obviously they're babies and they're cut in half, which, you know, upsets some people."

"But the idea is that they're happy, they're in this kind of psychedelic, dreamy, spacey background," he continues. "I remember a policeman handed one of these at the time and saying: "What is wrong with you people?"

Skiddle joins PEZ on a walkabout of a new exhibition, SWEET HARMONY: RAVE | TODAY, at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea. The exhibition - 'an immersive retrospective devoted to presenting a revolutionary survey of rave culture through the voices and lenses of those who experienced it' - features a number of Perry's works, including many of the futuristic, surreal and sometimes disturbing club flyers he produced for the likes of Helter Skelter, Beyond Therapy and Raindance during the '90s.

Born in Hackney, Perry, a graffiti artist at the time, was drawn into the rave scene in the late-80s, after being handed a sub-par photocopied club flyer for a rave in Battersea. Knowing he could do better, he approached the organisers to produce their next flyer.

"The idea was that you got the flyer and I wanted you to wander around in there," says PEZ. "You're getting the flyer at six in the morning, you're in the back of the car and you're looking at the flyer and thinking, 'what is wrong with PEZ?'."

"They're looking for the little spider I might have hidden, and they're being taken on a journey - because they're in the right state of mind to be doing that. The flyer would take on a life of its own."

Pez's work, amongst a few others, would go on to capture the twisted essence of one of the biggest counterculture movements of the twentieth century.

You can watch our interview with PEZ in full above.

SWEET HARMONY: RAVE | TODAY is on at the Saatchi Gallery until 14 September 2019.