Lehmann Maupin in New York is currently presenting work by Billy Childish, a cult artist who has been an integral part of the contemporary cultural landscape for the past 35 years. Curated by Matthew Higgs of White Columns, the exhibition is appropriately christened I am the Billy Childish, presenting a series of the artist’s recent paintings alongside a selection of his copious musical and literary projects.
Billy Childish sings at his opening at Lehmann Maupin
The paintings on display explore the Childish’s own place in history alongside his visionary heroes such as Edvard Munch and Vincent Van Gogh. His work explores and transcends the hardships that formed him into his own creative identity, delving into difficult topics such as his dysfunctional family life and his personal struggles with addiction.
The contrast of deliberate and potent paint application alongside serene and pastoral subject manner in many of the paintings seems to capture something eternal that is simultaneously universal and alienating. Childish juxtaposes his own past with larger themes of war, social protest, and a general span of history to create a body of work that is fervently unique.
On display upstairs in the gallery is a selection from his more than 100 LPs that he has recorded in his lifetime. Beginning his career at the apex of the Punk movement, his music and literary projects—including poetry and short prose—explore a counter-cultural idealism and are a celebration of the artist’s unique energy and range.
– D. Furnal