Archive for April, 2012


Pride of St Leonards checks in at the 13th floor of New York’s chashama building

I was delighted to hear that “Pride of St Leonards” which was painted and shown as part of my 2011 Lido Exhibition at Stoneman Gallery in Penzance last summer – had finally checked in at it’s new destination, the chashama building in New York. I like it that it was the 13th Floor….

13th Floor Elevator Ride for "Pride of St Leonards"

13th Floor Elevator Ride for "Pride of St Leonards"

Nice work Elanit

Pride of St Leonards - chashama building New York

Pride of St Leonards - chashama building New York

Read the full account here ~ Buildings and Walls and Gates that Lock

“2012 – Signs, Secrets & Symbols”

“2012 – Signs, Secrets & Symbols” My forthcoming solo exhibition for The ARTHouse Gallery is my response to the significance attached to the period of time that we are now living through, the year 2012.


An Almighty Shift In Consciousness (2012) - 20in x 24in - acrylic on canvas ~ '2012 ~ Signs, Secrets & Symbols' - Chris Billington

An Almighty Shift In Consciousness (2012) — 20in x 24in – acrylic on canvas – ‘2012 ~ Signs, Secrets & Symbols’ ~ Chris Billington


Like many, I first took note of the date “2012” and it’s connotations quite a while ago and I have been absorbing and planning for this show for a number of years, although I never had a specific venue in mind until early last autumn safe in the knowledge that the right space would become evident at the right time. When I first met Paul Watts at The ARTHouse Gallery last year I instinctively knew that this was the place where the exhibition had to take place and I am extremely proud to be working with him.

With “2012 – Signs, Secrets & Symbols” my work has advanced in new directions and has expanded not just to further explore the metaphysical world but also that of ancient symbols and secret codes. This exhibition embraces the cosmos and man’s place in it with paintings that, through emblematic imagery, reveal some of the elements and understanding that seemingly have been woven into our collective memory for all time.

From the cosmologies and mysticism of ancient civilisations, going back to the Olmec and Maya people of Central America and beyond with their references to 2012 in the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar and forward into the future thinking behind Quantum Physics, taking in elements of alchemy, belief systems, secret knowledge and science along the way, I have captured fragments of this enigmatic information and translated the focus of energy through the visual device of 27 new paintings.

These allegorical works are populated with coded allusions combined with the absolute materiality of pigments and sparked with my intuitive sense of colour.

“2012 – Signs, Secrets & Symbols” will be on exhibition at The ARTHouse Gallery from the 6th July – 24th July inclusive and there will be a Private View on the 5th July.

The ARTHouse Gallery
22 Post Office Road
Bournemouth BH1 1BA

Pride of St Leonards to be dumped in New York

Pride of St Leonards (2011) - 14in x 12in - Chris Billington

Pride of St Leonards (2011) - 14in x 12in - Chris Billington

I was intrigued when several weeks ago I was approached by Elanit asking if I would like to collaborate with her on her ongoing “Today I Dumped The Bodies” project.

A body was duly selected and dispatched to New York, in this instance it is one of my works from my 2011 Lido exhibition, a small painting “Pride of St Leonards”, framed in my customary white tulip wood. This being my interpretation of the outdoor bathing pool of St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex and featuring some of the soft tones first seen in the Lido Exhibition of last summer.

I shall be most interested to see where and how it is dumped and who will become the new owner….. I have been informed that some action is imminent.

Today I Dumped The Bodies

Euskaltel – a Commissioned Painting

In December I was commissioned to undertake a painting on the basis that due to current exhibition commitments it would take several months to complete.

It followed the same format as most of my commissions to date, in that I was given a broad theme, a size and a guide to a general look, ie desired colour scheme. A time frame was discussed and then I was left to get on with it. In this instance, drawn to my use of orange, my client’s only specific request was that it featured the colours of the Basque cycling team, Euskaltel. The painting, “Euskaltel” was delivered to a most delighted client on Good Friday.

Here is an insight into my own rather unique way of handling commissions.

I am fortunate that I am totally trusted for my skill and judgement in what is a major and very personal commitment. During an initial consultation I get a feel for the desired visual expectation and then I can approach the project with complete freedom to interpret the painting myself. My clients seem to like it that there is an element of surprise in the final result, heightened by an anticipation which builds as they wait to see the finished painting. I like it that my clients have confidence in me to produce work in this way, with little more than an occasional email to inform them that the painting is on schedule – painted with love and energy these commissioned works become very special to both me and my clients and always exceed expectations.

When my client finally saw “Euskaltel”for the first time she was absolutely stunned and delighted, and told me that it was the most beautiful painting that she had ever seen, in fact she went even further and told me that my colours were a reason to wake up in the morning. Going on to tell me that “Euskaltel” made her want to “Dive into the painting and swim around in my colours and get drunk on them” made me very happy indeed.

Here it is, with “Team Euskaltel” taking the lead in a race in The Pyrenees, and of course as always the photo cannot due the painting full justice….

Euskaltel  (2012) 80cm x 100cm - acrylic on canvas - Chris Billington

Euskaltel (2012) 80cm x 100cm - acrylic on canvas - Chris Billington

Notes on David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture @ Royal Academy of Arts

David Hockney RA - Winter Timber (2009)

David Hockney RA – Winter Timber (2009)

I was very excited to be seeing this exhibition which surely must rank as one of the most successful Royal Academy exhibitions ever.

It would seem that “A Bigger Picture” has completely divided the critics but the truth is that this is a body of work for the people, not the critics and the thing that hits home about this show is its phenomenal success with the public.

Now in the closing stages the Royal Academy have been keeping their doors open until midnight this past week to pack in the last of the crowds. And while not open quite as late, the Hockney exhibition, which ends on Easter Monday, has extended hours for its final few days, with the gallery open until 22.00 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

When I went along to see “A Bigger Picture” a couple of weeks ago I really did think that some of the hype and hysteria surrounding the show would have subsided and that I could have just walked in. How wrong could I have been, I was completely unprepared for the long queues which snaked their way around the RA courtyard, several hours long, and which apparently were continuous at all times of day and night. In order to short circuit the system I opted to take out annual membership, thereby gaining instant admission.

With this exhibition David Hockney has been granted a unique opportunity by the Royal Academy, the likes of which I doubt has previously been given to an artist, living or dead in it’s entire history. The entire space of the eleven galleries, mostly specifically themed, is given over to this vast collection of 150 plus works, showcasing and celebrating the artist’s representation of the landscape of his home county Yorkshire, with a particular focus on the Yorkshire Wolds, alongside selected earlier works.

The energy and exuberance of Hockney and the love of his subject is evident from the outset. Starting In the first gallery, with four very large seasonal paintings of a group of trees near Thixendale, these all near-identical multi-panel works, where only the seasons change, with their scale and intensity give a promise of great things to come.

Moving on to a room featuring some of his earlier works, including the enigmatic “Flight into Italy: That’s Switzerland That Was” and the brilliant and vibrant “Grand Canyon”there were a couple of very early paintings which being out of time seemed also lost and very out of place in this exhibition. A further gallery offered up a mixed selection of earlier landscapes and I was particularly happy to see “Pearblossom Highway” from 1986

David Hockney RA - Pearblossom Highway - 1986

David Hockney RA – Pearblossom Highway – 1986

Going on from room to room I was continuously overwhelmed and immersed in Hockney’s saturated colour space. A techicolour world bursting with bright pinks and magenta and populated with giant trees, hawthorn blossoms, flowers and weeds, and endless fields rolling into the distance, all bathed in various tones of acid greens.

David Hockney RA - A Closer Winter Tunnel February - March 2006

David Hockney RA – A Closer Winter Tunnel February – March 2006

One gallery was given over to his video experiment, shot in 9d from a rig of 9 video cameras mounted on the front of a Land Rover, each focusing on a slightly different area of Woldgate and the whole displayed in high resolution on 27 giant screens in a 9 x 3 formation. The subtly different shifting scenes slowly unfolding were hard to take in but they had one effect in that they did make one look harder.

The big surprise was the room full of the iPad pictures which despite their lack of extreme detail worked rather well, and while up close many seemed to dissolve and disintegrate before the eyes from a distance they appeared exquisitely rendered. There is a series of 52 of these on display and it is all too easy for some critics to dismiss these works as not being up to par but what Hockney has achieved with Brushes, the software costing a few pounds which he adopted very early on in 2008, and his finger and a stylus is remarkable, without even taking into consideration the fact that this is a man in his mid seventies.

David Hockney RA - The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 - 2 January Ipad Drawing on paper

David Hockney RA – The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 – 2 January Ipad Drawing on paper

This is an artist who has gone out there, again and again, stood in the middle of the landscape that he so loves, regardless of the weather to observe the scenery of his childhood and captured the textures and colours in his own unique way. With a career spanning more than 50 years and always keen to embrace new technology A Bigger Picture is ample proof as to why David Hockney is considered to be one of the most influential contemporary British artists ever, and the constant stream of visitors to see this remarkable show is testament to the love and affection that the British public have for him. The people have spoken.

‘David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture’ is accompanied by a lavish and fully illustrated 304 page catalogue With an introduction by Marco Livingstone, and a number of essays it explores the artist’s involvement with landscape painting in the context of Hockney’s magnificent career.

Images copyright David Hockney RA

David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture
Extended opening hours at Royal Academy of Arts until 9 April 2012

Notes on Gilbert & George: London Pictures @White Cube

Extra Extra Read all about it!!
Gilbert & George steal the London headlines and create world beating art.



The debonair pair systematically helped themselves to 3,712 posters of various daily and weekly London newspapers from newsstands across North and East London during a period spanning 6 years and then assiduously set about sorting and sifting them according to common key words to create a world beating show which is now on at White Cube galleries in London and one in Hong Kong, as part of a 13-gallery world tour.

I am a long term fan of of Gilbert & George and since I first heard them discussing this mammoth “LONDON PICTURES” project with Mark Lawson on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row earlier in March I knew this was something that I just had to see while I was in London recently.

Whittled down from 3,712 to 292, of which White Cube galleries show just 72 “LONDON PICTURES” leaves a startling and permanent impression of the harsh realities of urban life, stark and graphic. With key words of bright blood red jumping out from black and white pages such as . BURGLAR, MACHETE, HOOKER, SHOOT OUT – SHOOTING and SHOT DEAD the posters are arranged in panels in grid like fashion and superimposed over backdrop images of computer manipulated photo’s of Gilbert & George, looking out at the viewer – sinister and spectral like in the background – in eerie shades of flesh pink and orange.

The bottom right hand panel on each features the highlighted word, with a picture of the Queen’s Head taken from various coins throughout her reign, cleverly implying a Royal Endorsement, along with the words “A LONDON PICTURE / IT’S WRITTEN ALL OVER THEM” and their signature.

Although this could be the headlines from any major city in the world the fact that this is exhibition is a document of London sees G&G being embraced as the contemporary equivalent to Dickens and quite rightly too as “LONDON PICTURES” carries some weight as a historical document. Their insight into the day to day existence of urban life in the City in which they have lived and worked together since 1967 is spread out before us in a blunt and brutal reflection on the tragic side of London life and the sensationalist reporting of the news makers as it reverberates across the walls at White Cube galleries.

Gilbert & George - London Pictures - White Cube Hoxton Square

Gilbert & George - London Pictures - White Cube Hoxton Square

The accompanying 320+ page book that accompanies the show is a must have, featuring as it does all 292 works and a comprehensive essay by Michael Bracewell, I was lucky to acquire a signed copy thanks to the wonderful and helpful staff at Bermondsey.

A fabulous show in what is fast becoming my favourite London Gallery.

“A London Picture / It’s written all over them”.

Images copyright White Cube

At Bermondsey and Mason’s Yard until May 12, Hong Kong until May 5 and Hoxton Square until April 14

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