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The New Yorker


The New Yorker
November 2011

Goings on About Town: Art – Billy Childish


“I Am the Billy Childish” crows the title of this show, curated by the protean Matthew Higgs. The Billy who? The British punk rocker with the killer work ethic. Now fifty-one, Childish has recorded scores of albums, published five novels and many books of poetry, and painted hundreds of canvases, in an impasto-happy style that can suggest Edvard Munch’s workmanlike second cousin. The subjects of his new paintings bristle with drama: the German mountaineer Toni Kurz’s tragic last climb, a soldier at Wounded Knee, volcanoes erupting. Even the quieter works feel charged, as brushstrokes cohere into an image of a shepherd in a field or the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius taking a walk in the woods. Upstairs, a room lined with ephemera—album covers, zines, books—rounds out this portrait of a relentless and charismatic creative spirit at the top of his game. Through Jan. 21.