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Billy Childish: ‘Where the Black Water Slid’

  • Art
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
A very green painting of a woman swimming by Billy Childish
Billy Childish. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Who needs to reinvent the wheel when you can just kick it in a bit instead. That’s what Billy Childish does. Whether it's in his guise as a musician, a poet or an artist, he’s not exactly revolutionary. Instead, he takes a past style – garage rock, expressionism – and smacks it about, roughs it up, gives it some spit, some edge, some punk. 

These paintings follow in the same style furrow he’s been ploughing for years now, just with a bit more death and water than usual. There are nude women swimming and diving, losing themselves in languid aquatic worlds. There are shadowy birch forests, withering flowers, piles of skulls. It feels like Billy considering mortality and lust at the same time, twin Freudian drives that pulse through his life and through these paintings.

The big green swimmer is a pretty ugly painting, but the rest are great. They’re sombre, penumbral meditations on loss and death and pretty women, neat collisions of Edvard Munch and Peter Doig.

Throughout the run of the show, Billy will be set up downstairs, painting new works for the exhibition as a performance piece you can go and watch. It’s to prove he’s still there, he’s still alive, and he can still kick that wheel in a bit.

Eddy Frankel
Written by
Eddy Frankel


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