Recently someone breezed through my office and without knowing at all the context for this piece of work, or who the artist was, declared: “This is really, really great.”
It was the first work I ever saw of this artist, when I attended his exhibition at the Night Gallery in London in 1978. The piece was poster-size, I recall, black swastikas, the Kill Kill Kill is blood red. Perhaps you can discern a soldier, which was in green, running across the mid-field, but this soldier had a sort of martial-arts flair to him. I’m pretty sure the stripes on the side were red, white and blue, but I’ve looked this tiny postcard for so much longer than the original piece – I can’t say for sure.
The show really knocked me out - here was someone doing what I was only dreaming about at this time: making very clear art statements for my generation, our music and for the place and moment we were at (which still felt very post-war Britain). The artist was so young but had this complete, well-conceived and executed solo exhibition in London and doing it all, as they say, his way. I was so lucky to become friends with him.
This postcard was out in view because I’m attempting to gather the various works, missives and photographs I have of Andru Layke. I wrote about him here previously as Andi Septic, the name he had when I first met him.
Turns out he kept Layke as his name. I have now learned more about him, as family members have been writing me a bit since that post. We’re both learning, as I guess Andru was a bit of a mystery.
And an incredibly talented man. Not just an artist, he designed fabulous gear during at least the New Romantic era in London, after perfecting the look fostered by Vivienne Westwood (see Andru above, circa ’78). But he was also a wonderful writer. I kept every single letter he sent me and I’m no natural packrat. Plenty gets thrown out, but all of Andi’s letters were works of art, plus so much fun to read!
As the plague roared on in the 80s and early 90s, I often thought of him. We had lost touch and I was afraid there was a big reason why. He is no longer with us, and now that I know that, I just had to add something more to his memory. His work and his friendship are treasured.