Lehmann Maupin to Present New Billy Childish Exhibit
Lehmann Maupin will present an exhibition of new paintings by British artist Billy Childish, his first show in Hong Kong. A prolific artist, musician and poet, Childish is an energetic creative force whose practice is a consistent aspect of his everyday life.
Created over the past year, Childish's most recent paintings comprise large-scale portraits and landscapes painted in vivid hues and with frenetic marks on raw linen. At once wild, subtle and elemental, these new works celebrate the artist's fundamental love and understanding of the craft and traditions of painting. His imagery draws inspiration from subjects close to his emotional and physical world: his immediate family, particularly his wife and young daughter, and his environment, including the riverscape viewed from his home.
In the eponymous self-portrait edge of the forest (2013) the artist 'reveals himself' partially camouflaged amongst the leaves of an oak tree. In larger canvases, such as girl with stick (2013), he appears standing protectively with his daughter while she peers inquisitively at the viewer. Childish's landscapes feature views of the river from his family home in Chatham, England, where the artist lives and works today. While incredibly personal, the location also holds literary and historical relevance; it is just six miles south from the town where the protagonist Charles Marlow begins his tale in Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness, which Childish has repeatedly quoted as an influence.
Childish cites the masters of early modernism as collaborators. Elements of Edvard Munch's can be seen in this new work, as well as earlier masters such as Eugène Delacroix and art school friend and peer Peter Doig. In this way, a commonality of spirit with these artists is given precedence over contemporary notions of 'originality'. Childish merges the past and present, the exotic and the familiar into a highly charged and personal imagery of his own.
Billy Childish was born in Chatham, England in 1959. After leaving secondary school at age 16 he worked at the Naval Dockyard in Chatham as an apprentice stonemason. Initially denied an interview to the local art school, he produced hundreds of drawings that gained him entry to the prestigious St. Martin's School of Art in London. Childish's defiance to authority led to his eventual expulsion from art school in 1981. Childish then embarked on an artistic odyssey exploring a broad range of worldly themes including war, history and social protest. His work has been featured in major museum exhibitions such as Billy Childish: Unknowable but Certain at the ICA in London and White Columns in New York, both in 2010.
Founded in 1996 by partners Rachel Lehmann and David Maupin, Lehmann Maupin has fostered the careers of a diverse group of internationally renowned artists, both emerging and established, working in multiple disciplines and across varied media. With three locations-two in New York and one in Hong Kong-the gallery represents artists from the United States, Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East. Known for championing artists who create groundbreaking and challenging forms of visual expression, Lehmann Maupin presents work highlighting personal investigations and individual narratives through conceptual approaches that often address such issues as gender, class, religion, history, politics and globalism.
Image: Billy Childish, edge of the forest (detail), 2013, oil and charcoal on linen, 152.5 x 122 cm.; Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong