High Art: The London Artist Selling Ecstasy Tablets
In sculpture form, that is.
All images courtesy Zeus
"Like fashion, it's a changing market," London artist Zeus says of the various designs imprinted on MDMA tablets. His series Love is a Drug, on view at Prescription Art, is comprised of 36 limited-edition sculptures of magnified ecstasy pills, each donning different insignia.
"All of the pills I have made are in existence and even more are being created on a daily basis," Zeus tells The Creators Project (upon his return from a recent work trip to Ibiza, appropriately enough).
Each sculpture is hand-molded and cast in plaster, then laid out in a nine-inch square frame. Among others, you'll find Bart Simpson, a shamrock, the euro sign, UPS logo, Mario Mushroom, and the Wu-Tang Clan "W." Most popular are the smiley face and white dove pill sculptures, whose editions of 10 have already sold out. Zeus describes the series as an exploration of the "branding side of a subculture that, while highly illegal, seems very organised." He also wanted to look at how love has become something synthetic within that culture—with E as the perfect symbol to address this concept, the series literally frames emblems within emblems.
Zeus, born Dean Zeus Colman, started tagging his moniker on London streets and trains throughout the 80s. His graffiti work quickly earned him a reputation, as well as design gigs for various clubs. "My personal experience with ecstasy," he explains, "is that I grew up in the 90s doing backdrops for some of the biggest rave clubs." Though he stayed sober at the time—even preferring milk to alcohol while he spray painted—he did try ecstasy later on and "understood why people were so friendly to each other." Zeus eventually graduated from the Chelsea College of Art with a degree in sculpture, and today applies his signature style to 3D works, such as graffiti sculptures in wood and glass.