ARTIST:

Charlie Billingham

Download Artist’s CV

Charlie Billingham
Wigged Bum (Yellow Dot), 2012
Oil and acrylic on conservation polyester
100 x 85 cm

Although we can identify things in Charlie Billingham’s work as part of a certain idea of the past – baggy britches, towering wigs, swags of jewellery, vaguely scatological humour – their presentation (in bits, in fragments) suggests a kind of dispersal, a refusal to fully cohere. Billingham holds the bits at bay: the past stays past. Late 18th and early 19th century motifs – big Regency bums in wigs or britches; bonnets with cascading feathers; big-buttoned waistcoats – are repeated in an array of decorative colours, either as wallpaper or as reversible motifs on canvases.

Charlie Billingham
Wigged Bum 2, 2012
Oil and acrylic on conservation polyester
100 x 85 cm

That repetition, the past becoming décor, is a part of Billingham’s idea of history: that it becomes, for us, a disconnected thing, a sequence of changing tastes, a theme for a costume party. Billingham’s motifs derive from the satirical prints of the late 18th/early 19th century caricaturists Cruikshank and Gillray, whose works were themselves designed for mass reproduction; by transforming them into painting, Billingham subtracts their political specificity and treats them instead as what the artist calls “a symbol of a certain type of taste”.

Charlie Billingham
Bum 2, 2012
Oil on canvas
100 x 85 cm

In A Voluptuary under the horrors of Digestion, Gillray’s satirical 1792 image of the Prince Regent (known in his time as “the Prince of Whales”) is stretched into near-abstraction, its speckles of dripped colour a reminder of Billingham’s historical distancing: print becoming paint. A six-leaf folding screen, meanwhile, composed of the bottom halves (front and back) of three different paintings of the Three Graces, with images of fountains on the other side, seems concerned with lost ideals of beauty. Their rendering – loose, gestural, vague – is part of their sense of absence: they’re not quite here.

Charlie Billingham
Bum 3, 2012
Oil on canvas
100 x 85 cm

Charlie Billingham
3 Graces/Fountains Screen, 2012
6 leaf folding screen consisting of 12 oil paintings on canvas, hard wood frame, brass hinges
172 x 348 cm

Charlie Billingham
A Voluptuary Under The Horrors Of Digestion, 2012
Oil on canvas
180 x 300 cm

Charlie Billingham
Wigged Bum 5, 2012
Oil on canvas
100 x 85 cm

Charlie Billingham
Wigged Bum 6, 2012
Oil on canvas
100 x 85 cm

Charlie Billingham
Wigged Bum 7, 2012
Oil on canvas
100 x 85 cm

Charlie Billingham
Wigged Bum 8, 2012
Oil on canvas
100 x 85 cm

Charlie Billingham
Bum 5, 2012
Oil and acrylic on conservation polyester
100 x 85 cm

Charlie Billingham
Bum 6, 2012
Oil on canvas
100 x 85 cm

Charlie Billingham
Bum 7, 2012
Oil and acrylic on conservation polyester
100 x 85 cm

Charlie Billingham
Bum 8, 2012
Oil on canvas
100 x 85 cm

Charlie Billingham
Bonnet 2, 2012
Oil on canvas
100 x 85 cm

Charlie Billingham
Bonnet 3 (Elizabeth), 2012
Oil on canvas
100 x 85 cm

Charlie Billingham
Bonnet 4 (Elizabeth), 2012
Oil on canvas
100 x 85 cm

Charlie Billingham
Bonnet 5, 2012
Oil on canvas
100 x 85 cm

Charlie Billingham
Promenade 2, 2012
Oil and acrylic on canvas
100 x 85 cm

Charlie Billingham
Torn, 2012
Oil on canvas
100 x 85 cm

Charlie Billingham
P.P, 2012
Oil and acrylic on conservation polyester
100 x 85 cm

Text by Ben Street

Charlie Billingham
Installation shot,

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