Posts Tagged ‘Modern Art’


Baldessari, Saatchi, Ryman & Sold Art

Modern Art Report – Baldessari, Saatchi, Ryman and Sold Art

Apologies for the lack of communication coming out of my studio these past few months, even by my standards this update is very late indeed, here are my notes on some highlights from 2019 and early 2020, hopefully followers of my work will find they were worth the wait.

Union Jacked – 2019 – acrylic on canvas 60 x 60cm
Private Collection Finland

Back in late January in what now seems like a very distant alternative reality, a world without this dreadful virus, I was about to update my website with news and highlights from 2019 and was thinking of some of the significant people that we had lost in that year from the world of art. Whilst the events that have unfolded since the start of the year, especially the horrendous death global death toll, have put a different perspective on things I would still like to pay tribute to a few super talented members of the art community from across all genres who we lost before before Covid 19. Notably two prodigious experimental filmmaker’s Jonas Mekas and Agnès Varda and minimalist painter Robert Ryman whose paintings are the very antithesis of my own work, mostly being monochrome and invariably on square supports. In fact my complete oeuvre to date only includes two black and white paintings, one being “On Thin Ice” from my “2012 – Signs, Secrets and Symbols” exhibition, the other being a commissioned still life from 2008. Ryman gave a special place to the world of white and his pieces, luxuriantly contemplative, have a serenity that always captivates me. “Legend” one of a series of 9 paintings from 1982, pictured below, is on display at the Tate Modern exhibition In the Studio: Painting with White and is free to enter.

Ledger – 1982 – Robert Ryman – Tate Modern © Robert Ryman

We also lost some incredible musicians in 2019 including Peter Tork of The Monkees and drummers Ginger Baker and Andy Anderson. Andy worked with everyone from Isaac Hayes to Edwin Collins as a session musician and was the drummer with several great bands bands during his career, notably The Cure and Hawkwind. Also back in January I received very sad news from a friend that Martin Griffin had just passed away. Martin of course was also a drummer, on the sticks with Hawklords and Hawkwind, and was something of a legend in the West Country. News of his death was particularly poignant for me as it was just over 40 years previously that I had recorded with him in his studio in Roche. Another giant who touched my life in a personal way was the pioneering conceptual artist John Baldessari, a Promethean towering man both physically and artistically, his artwork featuring in more than 300 solo exhibitions and 1000 group exhibitions during his life, he has left behind a phenomenal cultural legacy.

He started as an abstract painter, famously cremating all of his paintings from a 13 year period at a San Diego funeral home in 1970. After The Cremation Project 1970 Baldessari went on to embrace a proliferation of mediums, including painting, graduating to some mammoth public conceptual pieces and was referred to as a serial inventor. However his hallmark technique was his use of photography, particularly the process of placing black, white and coloured dots over the faces of the subjects in photographs and he certainly had a direct influence over the development of appropriation art. Playful and provocative, always at the heart of everything he did was his sense of humour and his counter revolution against what he saw as a staid art world that took itself too seriously. John Baldessai touched my life in a tiny personal way when in April 2011 I was invited to be a participant in his dynamic collaborative artwork “Your Name In Lights” at The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Three Red Paintings – 1988 – John Baldessari – Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami
Gift of the Lannan Foundation © John Baldessari

A huge thank you to the friends and clients who have been sending messages and enquiring about my wellbeing these past few months of silence, here then, later than ever, are some of my personal high points from 2019 and early 2020.

The most marvellous news of 2019 took place last June when I was in the Saatchi Gallery in London with my good friend Dex and I took a call from my son-in-law telling me that I was a grandfather again. My youngest daughter Emily gave birth to a beautiful daughter Bronte, she was due around my birthday but was in no hurry and arrived safely a little late. I am now blessed with five granddaughters and one grandson and here she is at just over a year old, already flexing her creative talents!

Bronte flexing her creative muscles at 14 months old

With other news regarding Saatchi, I was delighted to have been contacted by the chief curator of Saatchi over in the USA with a request to commission an extra large 48 inch print of Rebecca – one of my paintings from my “Falmouth Working Boats” exhibition of 2011, the original of which is held in a private collection. “Rebecca” the print is now vibrantly hanging in a meeting room in a hotel in California on which Saatchi were working. So a big thank you once again Saatchi.

Rebecca – 2010 – acrylic on canvas – 48 x 40in print commissioned by Saatchi 2020

Also last August I was approached by the accomplished Spanish contemporary composer Antón Alcalde. He told me that he had recently premiered a commission written for large orchestra called ‘that pale blue dot ‘. Antón went on to say “the title was extrapolated from a Carl Sagan quote. I based organically the whole work taken as ‘cornerstone’ your masterpiece ‘The Earth is blue….. is beautiful’ (2009).” requesting use of the image of the painting to illustrate the cover of the composition. The original has long been in a large private collection of “Billington’s” but I am sure that this very special and ardent collector of my paintings will be equally as proud as I am that the image is now the cover art for a magnificent piece of music.

The Earth is blue…… is beautiful – 2009 – acrylic on canvas 100 x 40cm – Private Collection
Antón Alcalde – Pale Blue Dot – composition for large orchestra

On the subject of music, what news of Jynnji?

Jynnji and Jynnji Music, the label and Music Publishing arm grew meteorically exceeding all expectations during 2018/19. Wholly eclectic and style agnostic, Jynnji artists spanned the entire musical spectrum and all areas of the globe and the label’s reach was equally global and I was completely humbled and astounded by the amazing roster of talent on the label and the many more artists who wanted to work with me. A heartfelt thank you to each and every one of them, also to Lee at Cornwall Live/West Briton, Andy at Source FM, my distributors and to BBC Radio and all of the independent stations, journalists and music press, UK and international, who supported the Jynnji project during its short but very exciting life. It was with much regret that due to personal reasons I had to close the label down at the end of summer last year and I have nothing but the best wishes for all of the musicians who were on board. Hopefully they have moved on to bigger and better things and long may they continue to create such original music.

Regarding my painting, 2019 saw me sell my first piece of modern art into Finland, “Union Jacked”, which was commissioned by a lovely client who wanted a painting in the style of my work from my 2014 “Punk – The Transatlantic Paintings” exhibition. I am rather proud that this is the third country in the beguiling and most scintillating Nordic region where I now have paintings in private collections, the others being Sweden and Norway.

Union Jacked – 2019 – Private Collection, Finland

Among sold paintings during 2019 were two small studies of my often returned to theme of landscapes and landmarks in Cornwall art, St Michael’s Mount and Lizard Point. Other paintings sold included “K’ubul” and I was happy to see “Harmony of the Spheres” from the same “2012 – Signs, Secrets and Symbols” exhibition go to the home of a crazy super talented psycho-billy musician.

St Michael’s Mount III – 2018 – 6 x 8in
Private Collection
Lizard Point III – 2018 – acrylic on board 6 x 8in
Private Collection
Harmony of the Spheres -2012 – acrylic on canvas 50 x 50cm – Private Collection

Meanwhile I have several ongoing projects underway in the ArtLab, details of some of which I hope will be posted in due course. As always my sincere thanks for your continued interest in my art, especially to those that currently invest or have invested in my paintings.

K’ubul -2012 – acrylic on canvas 80 x 60cm – Private Collection


2019 : ArtLab : Chris Billington
2019 : ArtLab : Chris Billington

2019 The View From The ArtLab and Sold Art 2018

As 2019 is officially on us I thought that rather than the usual New Year, New Me message I would start the year with a big thank you to all of you who have been part of my journey as an artist. Not only is this a thank you, it is more of an open personal message to the people who have bought my art over the years and also those others who have shown tremendous love and support in everything that I do, starting with my wonderful wife Jennie, my amazingly talented children, and now their children, and of course my close friends. My family like to stay out of the limelight so they rarely get a mention but without them I am sure that I would not function well at all! It gives me immense pleasure to know that my particular take on modern art continues to bring great joy to so many, some of my sold art from last year are featured in this post. I have lost count on how many times I have been told that a particular painting or paintings of mine can be so uplifting and are a delight to wake up to. In addition to those who collect my art there are many from around the world, from Alaska to Wolfsburg, who regularly write to me and continue to follow me and my work. Some of whom have been doing so for over a decade, and I apologise for not always getting back to those emails and messages as I should but I always have good intentions.

Love Etc., 2009 acrylic on canvas, 100 x 70cm, Sold Art 2018, Modern Art by British Artist Chris Billington

Love Etc., 2009 acrylic on canvas, 100 x 70cm, Sold Art 2018

During 2018 I sold art through Saatchi and also direct to individual collectors from all walks of life, including a Police Detective, a Merchant Banker, a Retired Teacher, a Royal Mail Sorting Office employee and an Art Auction House Adminstrator. Thank you.

Spitfire Boys, 2018 acrylic on panel, 12 x 12in, Sold Art 2018, Modern Art by British Artist Chris Billington
Spitfire Boys, 2018 acrylic on panel, 12 x 12in, Sold Art 2018

I feel blessed and I am constantly humbled by the people who buy my art, Be it one painting or a love affair with and a collection of many of my paintings. One such family who collect my art made a studio visit during late summer and purchased “Spitfire Boys” and “Duo – An Optical Illusion” to add to their collection of Chris Billington Modern Art with which they are gradually filling up their beautiful old farmhouse in East Sussex, “Duo – An Optical Illusion” is pictured below in its new home in which a previously purchased painting of mine, “Diving In Brockwell Park, 20 x 22in, from my 2011 Stoneman Gallery Lido Exhibition, can be seen at the bottom of the stairs.

Also included in my sold art of 2018 was a painting which was commissioned by a client after seeing my painting for Truro City Council, ‘Three Spires Under Blue Skies’ hanging in the Council Chambers at Truro City Hall. I do not often revisit a subject with an almost identical painting but on this occassion I made an exception, the resulting 100 x 120cm painting ‘Three Spires Under Bluer Skies’ can be seen below in its new Truro home.

Three Spires Under Bluer Skies, 2018 acrylic on canvas, 100 x 120cm, Sold Art 2018, Modern Art by British Artist Chris Billington
Three Spires Under Bluer Skies, 2018 acrylic on canvas, 100 x 120cm, Sold Art 2018

Duo - An Optical Illusion, 2010 acrylic on wood panels, 120 x 40cm, Sold Art 2018 East Sussex-Modern Art by British Artist Chris Billington
Duo – An Optical Illusion, 2010 acrylic on wood panels, 120 x 40cm, Sold Art 2018 East Sussex
Spifire Boys, 2018 acrylic on panel, 30 x 30cm, Sold Art 2018 East Sussex-Modern Art by British Artist Chris Billington.jpg
Spifire Boys, 2018 acrylic on panel, 30 x 30cm, Sold Art 2018 East Sussex

I rarely respond to requests for art from charities and fundraisers these days as I have given away many paintings over the years. However I was most pleased to have donated a 12 x 12in painting ‘Six Choughs Over Kynance’  to help Falmouth’s Local Community Radio Station SourceFM with their Crowdfunding effort to raise funds for their studio accessibility upgrade project. I am delighted that ‘Six Choughs Over Kynance’ sold for £600, raising well over half a thousand pounds towards the fabulous grand total of £6,130 successfully raised by the unpaid volunteer station staff, with 95 supporters in 35 days

Six Choughs Over Kynance, 2015,  12 x 12in - Raised £600 for SourceFM 2018 Fundraiser -Chris Billington.JPG
Six Choughs Over Kynance, 2015, 12 x 12in sold for £600 for SourceFM

The other notable milestone for me in 2018 was the launch of Jynnji Records in September. I am simply overwhelmed by the support that my label is getting, both from within and without the industry and I do realise that particularly in the early stages a lot of the interest is coming from supporters of my art, once again thank you to all. In an age of information and attention seeking overload I am gratified to know that there are people who are genuinely interested in all of my art output in whatever form. Unlike many, one thing that I try not to do is bombard you with useless information and updates merely because I like the sound of my own voice. If I have nothing to say you can be assured that I will not post for the sake of it. The downside of this approach is that I do not update this site regularly but with a lot more happening with Jynnji the updates will be a little more frequent!

Crossing The Red Sea, 2014 acrylic on panel, 12 x 12in, Sold Art 2018, Modern Art by British Artist Chris Billington
Crossing The Red Sea, 2014 acrylic on panel, 12 x 12in, Sold Art 2018

So on to 2019

Obviously a main focus of my attention and energy for this coming year is Jynnji. The label is growing organically and gathering fans and I am very carefully and slowly adding to the Jynnji family of artists. The latest signing – a Prog Rock Band, Dark Corners – illustrating how eclectic the label is. My aim is genuinely to try and do things a little different, for Jynnji acts and for Jynnji fans, and there should be some excting developments in 2019. Starting this week, we have begun recording the debut album from Loic Rich, working title Here I Am, and followed up mid January by our first release of 2019, the debut album by Greek sound, synth and Theremin experementalist Lambro Papazois of elconEstharoe. This will be followed by the debut release by Dark Corners, an EP to introduce their brand of Prog Rock music to the world!

This does not mean that my painting will suffer from neglect, rather it just means that I have to stretch a little more time out of each day! I am currently working on some larger paintings which will all be completed in 2019 and later in January, once we have recorded the new album for Loic I shall be back in the ArtLab working on a completely new painting which I hope will become the centrepiece of my work in 2019.

Chris Billington with Frankie Dettori - North Bank, Emirates Stadium 22.04.18, last Home London Derby, Arsenal v West Ham for Arsene Wenger
Chris Billington with Frankie Dettori – North Bank, Emirates Stadium 22.04.18

On a completely different note, I was thrilled to be able to make the last Home London Derby for Arsene Wenger in April last year in which Arsenal had an emphatic win against West Ham 4-1. Here is a photo taken pre-match with me and the wonderful Frankie Dettori outside the North Bank. The atmosphere in the ground was phenomenal. Good Luck Arsenal and new head coach Unai Emery in 2019!

Once again my most heartfelt thank you to all supporters and fans of my art both here in the UK and from around the world, and thank you for embracing my new project Jynnji.  I sincerely hope that 2019 this brings you everything that you wish for.  And as always as we head into 2019 it is my firm belief that ‘anything is possible’, have the best year and as a reminder of the beauty of all things my first Camelia of 2019 burst into life on January 1st, right on cue!

View from the ArtLab my first Camelia of 2019 burst into life on 1st Jan - Chris Billington
View from the ArtLab my first Camelia of 2019 burst into life on 1st Jan – Chris Billington

Christmas Greetings

Nadelik Lowen – Christmas Greetings and a healthy and prosperous 2019 to One and All!

This is the eleventh consecutive year that I have sent out over 100 Christmas cards which are based on my annual Christmas painting. For over a decade these cards have been delivered around the world to followers of my art, my friends and collectors of my paintings. Some of whom have all eleven cards now. I was going to stop at ten but due to demand I have decided to keep producing them for a while longer, I have however reduced the number slightly for 2018 due to having had zero feedback from a small number of recipients for a few years and I am unsure if some cards were perhaps no longer reaching the right people .

For my 2018 Christmas card I have revisited both the Mousehole Lights and the Cosmic themes with “Cosmic Lights Mousehole – St Clement’s Island Celtic Cross”

Cosmic Lights Mousehole - St Clement’s Island Celtic Cross 2018 acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24in - Chris Billington Christmas Painting 2018 - Modern Art
Cosmic Lights Mousehole – St Clement’s Island Celtic Cross 2018 acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24in

I wish you Love, Light and Peace at Christmas


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