Billy Childish: where the black water slid

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Open: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm, Mon by appointment

1 Cromwell Place, SW7 2JE, London, UK
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm, Mon by appointment


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Billy Childish: where the black water slid

to Sat 3 Sep 2022

Artist: Billy Childish

1 Cromwell Place, SW7 2JE Billy Childish: where the black water slid

Tue-Sat 10am-6pm, Mon by appointment


Lehmann Maupin presents where the black water slid, an exhibition of new work by Billy Childish.

Artworks

Swimmer, 2022

Oil and charcoal on linen
48.03 x 72.05 in
Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London

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trees, morning, 2022

Oil and charcoal on linen
72.05 x 60.04 in
Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London

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A true Renaissance man, the British artist is at once painter, printmaker, musician, photographer, and writer. In addition to his paintings, works on paper, and multiples, Childish has produced hundreds of albums of music and numerous volumes of fiction and poetry. As a painter, Childish works quickly and intuitively, often creating his kinetic compositions in a single session without any revision. Working primarily on linen, his canvases exude a warm glow, and his palette is often natural and earthy, reflecting the tenor of the traditional art historical subjects—seascapes, figure in the landscape, still lives—he engages. His subjects are frequently people he knows or admires or drawn from his environment: birch forests, bathers, self-portraits, or his wife as a reclining female nude are recurring themes.

For where the black water slid, Childish explores the classic theme of the bather, with many works featuring swimmers immersed in swirling waters or figures wading in pools and caves fed by rushing waterfalls. Rendered in deep hues of green and brown offset with bright white accents, these works portray idyllic scenes of leisure and relaxation, and suggest deep communion with both nature and self. Other paintings depict bathers fully immersed in bright, glistening water, with colorful refractions reflected across the picture plane, showcasing Childish’s dynamic treatment of water and light. where the black water slid also includes work from Chidlish’s recent skull series, set in natural landscapes. Recalling the tradition of vanitas painting, these memento mori poetically remind viewers to cherish that which is most important in life—family, friends, and time spent in the natural world.

While his painting style and surrealist landscapes are often compared to those of fin de siècle expressionist painters such as Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch, it is the ethos these artists represent—their spiritual and creative integrity—that is most compelling for Childish. A total artist, Childish has long embodied these qualities in his trenchant anti-establishment, anti-authority stance and his reverence for traditional, representational oil painting regardless of its status within contemporary artistic discourse. An unabashed universalist, Childish considers artistry to be the inheritance of every human being, a method to capture the expressive impulse and visualize the powerful lure of beauty and its innate connection to the divine.

Installation view, where the black water slid, June 22 – September 3, 2022, Lehmann Maupin, London. Courtesy Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London. Photography by Eva Herzog.


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