White Columns

Gallery Billy Childish

White Columns’ is pleased to present a solo exhibition of recent paintings by the British artist, musician and writer Billy Childish.

A legendary figure, Billy Childish has worked on the margins of the art world, the music business, and the literary scene for more than thirty years. After a brief stint at art school in London in the early 1980s, where he befriended fellow student Peter Doig, Childish has since struck out on a decidedly singular path. Known equally well as a musician – he has released more than 120 albums since the late 1970s – as a poet, novelist and painter, Childish has explored throughout his work, and often with a startling honesty, his struggles in coming to terms with addiction, physical and sexual abuse, and a childhood and adolescence spent in a dysfunctional family setting. (Narratives documented in his autobiographical novels ‘My Fault’, 1996, and ‘Notebooks of a Naked Youth’, 1997.)

At White Columns Childish presents a discrete group of recent oil paintings. Drawn from ongoing series and unashamedly acknowledging their artistic lineage – e.g. Munch, van Gogh, and early 20th Century German expressionism – Childish’s paintings include self portraits in the landscape; images of the Swiss modernist writer Robert Walser (a significant influence on Childish’s own approach to writing); scenes of the River Medway in Kent, England; and a group of recent still-life paintings of flowers depicted in vases made by the artist’s mother. Childish’s paintings display an economy and directness that is analogous to the fundamental nature of his poetry and stripped-down, blues-inspired music. Childish seeks to explore – in all his work - those aspects of his own life that are both essential and universal. Eschewing contemporary mannerisms and modes of production, even down to his dandyish attire, Childish instead privileges seemingly anachronistic aesthetic and literary styles, to create works – in painting, music and literature – that are somehow, and paradoxically, timeless.

Billy Childish’s exhibition at White Columns runs parallel to ‘Unknowable but Certain’, his first institutional survey exhibition at London’s Institute of Contemporary Art, (17 February - 2 May, 2010), co-curated by White Columns’ Director Matthew Higgs and the ICA’s Richard Birkett. The ICA exhibition brings together more recent paintings alongside a thirty year survey of his writing and music.
Accompanying the White Columns exhibition is a new, limited edition 12” record, jointly released by The Sound of White Columns and San Francisco’s Smartguy records. The 4 track EP is housed in a gatefold sleeve designed by Peter Doig. For more information contact the gallery.

White Columns has also published a ‘zine with poems by Billy Childish, and texts by Matthew Higgs, Richard Birkett, Jutta Koether, and Martin Clark. Available from the gallery for $3.00.

Billy Childish (b. 1959) lives and works in Chatham, Kent, England. He is one of the most prolific cultural figures of the past 30 years. Since 1977 he has released more than 120 albums, and as many singles with groups including The Pop Rivets, The Milkshakes, Thee Headcoats, and more recently with the Musicians of the British Empire. Childish has published more than fifty collections of poetry and prose, including a series of autobiographical novels from which he is currently developing a screenplay. He has exhibited his paintings internationally, including shows at Esther Schipper, Cologne (1993), and Cubitt, London (1993 and 1995, both co-curated by Matthew Higgs and Peter Doig.) More recently he has had solo exhibitions at London’s Aquarium and L-13 galleries. In September 2010 Billy will have a solo exhibition at Berlin’s Neugerreimschneider gallery.

For more information visit www.billychildish.com and www.hangmanbooks.com

Billy Childish’s exhibition at White Columns has been generously supported by the British Council.