- Charlie Billingham
Travesia Cuatro is pleased to present the first exhibition in Spain by British artist Charlie Billingham (London, 1984), for which the artist has made a new body of work, comprising of a number or small and large scale paintings of frogs and figures, and a wall painting.
To create his paintings, Billingham has taken cropped sections of imagery from a print by James Gillray from 1799. Through his cropping and recomposing, he has emptied the narrative content of the original historical satirical source, to isolate particular moments, gestures and expressions. Bulging with colour and hedonistic brushwork, the paintings are evacuated of the original meaning and intention of the print, while retaining some of the monstrous, bulbous qualities of his source material. With the imagery decontextualized, the paintings are able to take on their own new, more ambiguous narratives.
In reference to the print-making and colouring processes of the original etchings, which were often coloured by a range of people at different points in history, in a variety of colour ways, Billingham plays with repetition and mirroring. The latter refers to the way etchings are made: the print is a mirror copy of the etched plate.
A number of the paintings use the same section of imagery, but with different combinations of colours, as can be seen in the original prints: sometimes a dress is pink, sometimes striped green and white.
The paintings are hung on a new wall-painting created for the exhibition, showing a composition of koi carps block printed, under a regular repeated pattern of water ripples. The wall-painting references ornamental ponds, whilst also alluding to exotic wallpaper, both of which were popular in the 18th century. The pond setting also poses as a playful backdrop: the frogs sit on their canvases as if they were floating lily pads.