sun 18/08/2019

Billy Childish: Unknowable but Certain, ICA | reviews, news & interviews

Billy Childish: Unknowable but Certain, ICA

Billy Childish: Unknowable but Certain, ICA

He hates conceptual art, so just what is the former Stuckist doing at the ICA?

Billy Childish: honouring the tradition of the outsider artist

Billy Childish claims to think only in pictures. But since writing forms as big a part of his creative output as painting, that can’t be quite true. In fact, he’s written a number of autobiographical novels as well as collections of poetry. What’s more, he’s a hugely prolific musician, so I’m sure he means only that he feels a little more comfortable expressing himself through imagery rather than abstract concepts – though obviously, being human, he must do that as well.


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If I'm not mistaken, I'd say Fisun Guner was starting to warm to our friend Billy Childish.... but to take issue with a few things.... Just because Childish claims to think only in pictures it doesn't mean it has to be a total statement of fact. But as a dyslexic it's highly likely he does, and could possibly translate those pictures into words. It should also be added that this exhibition at the ICA is an attempt to show Childish's output as a total (and continuing) work of art and there are keen inter-relationships (despite their stand alone strengths) between the painting, writing, music and ideas. Far from being a cynical ploy to drag visitors into the ICA, this exhibition is the result of a long discussion centered around the curator Matthew Higgs and a sister show currently on at White Columns in New York. The choice of a Childish exhibition is more indicative of a changing emphasis in art to seek a sense of meaning, wholeness and genuinely radical positions. Something that really could save our ailing institutions and us all from the usual homogenized cultural platter we're continually fed.

Great review! This is a really incisive critique by Fisun of one of our most important artists of the Medway scene.

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