Heroes #1 (Billy Childish), 2012

Billy Childish is about as far from Bowie as you can imagine, musically. Childish favours hard, fast garage rock, which Bowie’s never attempted (unless you include Tin Machine, but they’re more of an aircraft hangar band). Childish’s work is honest, and stripped of as much artifice as possible – when I first saw him perform with Thee Headcoats in the early nineties it was like seeing a proper punk band. They were full steam ahead, no stopping them exciting – they were messy and fun. The music’s stayed like that (with various band line-ups he’s recording a staggering number of records – he favours vinyl). And his art is like that too. According to Wikipedia “he is a consistent advocate for amateurism and free emotional expression and was a co-founder of the Stuckism art movement with Charles Thomson in 1999.” He left stuckism behind some time ago.

Childish paints raw, expressionistic, emotionally-charged figurative paintings. They’re great, and act as a nice antidote to conceptual art.

Anyway, I met him in the street yesterday and he very graciously agreed to a couple of shots. I had to crouch in the road to get them, and Billy kept watch to make sure I didn’t get run over. Some heroes do not disappoint.

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