CHILDISH, Billy

hoiwson PIILLL

Billy Childish is, famously, the name of the man inside Tracey Emin’s tent, but Billy Childish is so much more than that. He is more, even, than the man whose influence Emin acknowledged in the formative years of her career. Billy Childish is a cult figure in America, Japan and Europe. He is the most prolific painter, poet and song writer of his generation. He is a man who refuses to have either his spellings or his world view ‘put right’ in any way, working free of limits, restraint, compromise and fashion. (He was welcomed into St Martin’s School of Art under a ‘genius clause’ and later expelled due to his maverick working methods.) As Billy puts it himself: 'I am self taught. I do not like fashion culture.'

Lavishing thick, lush strokes of paint onto the canvas, Childish creates passionate and almost sculptural work. His canvasses display both the swirling to life of the Impressionists and the dark, savage brushstrokes of the Expressionists. A Van Gogh-like obsession with colour rages from Childish’s flowers, whilst the figures in his paintings are lonely, thoughtful people, created by an obstinately individual artist.

An iconic figure in 21st Century art, Childish co-wrote the Stuckist Manifesto with Charles Thomson: ‘Against conceptualism, hedonism and the cult of the ego’. Like Expressionist Edvard Munch, Childish explores his ‘neurosis and innocence’ (Stuckist Manifesto) through his art. Billy Childish’s global profile is expected to soar further in 2010, due to a major exhibition of his work in White Columns, New York, and a rare exhibition in ICA, London. ‘The Stuckist engages with the moment’ (Stuckist Manifesto) and the art world, as it – arguably – creaks slowly away from the dead sharks of Conceptualism, is engaging with Childish right now. As Childish says of his paintings: ‘My stuff isn’t made up. It isn’t bullshit; it’s the real thing’.