wolves, sunsets and the self
Lehmann Maupin, Seoul
23rd April – 27th June 2020
Lehmann Maupin is pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings by Billy Childish. The prolific British painter, musician, and writer has produced hundreds of albums of music and dozens of volumes of fiction and poetry. For his sixth exhibition with the gallery, and his first with Lehmann Maupin in Korea, Childish has created a body of work emblematic of his “radical traditionalist” approach. Pulling from themes found throughout art history—a verdant landscape, a sunset, a still life—Childish presents intensely personal vignettes that feel archetypical, vibrating with the kinetic energy of a moment lived.
While working in a state of flow is essential to the creative process of any artist, for Childish this state represents the entirety of artistic production. Working intuitively and quickly, his highly kinetic paintings are mostly created in a single session without any revision. His style is often compared to the expressionist painters of the late 19th/early 20th century, such as Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch, but for Childish it is the embodiment of these artists’ spiritual and creative integrity, and how this informed their roles within society, that is most compelling. 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.
Utterly non-ironic and vividly familiar, a Childish painting can be interpreted the way one might interpret a dream. In these paintings, Childish presents a series of landscapes ranging from an idyllic sunset to an ominously clouded sky. Also included is a still life of a vase of flowers and a wolf stalking its prey. All of these can be thought of as signifiers for states of being or emotions legible in the form of a landscape. For the artist, the conceptual should never replace the humanistic—Childish states “I make a picture in the same way a child does—something ‘out there’ interests me. Making a painting of that ‘something’ then joins me with the universal creator/creation in a more intent way than just being an observer.”