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The Standard

May 2, 2014

Dots and dashes
By: Apple Lam

British artist Billy Childish is holding his first show in Hong Kong, "Edge of the Forest," at Lehmann Maupin in Pedder Building. The show ends tomorrow.

What inspires you?

I paint what is near to me and things that have meaning for me. This means I do not have to find subjects, they just present themselves as a gift from God, or the creation.

My family offers a strong connection for me to the world. The river by my house runs through the town where I was born and still live. My paternal grandfather was a sailor in the royal navy in World War I, on my mother's side the family were shipwrights and dockyard workers. I also worked in the local dockyard when I left school at 16.

In your paintings, space is filled with dots of paint or curvy, swirly brushstrokes. Any particular reason why this style?

This style developed from studying the paintings of the masters. It is also, I believe, suggested by the nature of the world, which is made up of vibrating energy. I think if you expose yourself to light and life, in the end it will come out of your paintbrush in this way.

How have you changed as an artist?

I have painted since I was two, and made oil paintings since I was 12. My father and older brother both painted. My influences were Vincent van Gogh, Munch, Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Salvador Dali, Matisse, Kurt Schwitters, Karl Schmiditt-Routlouff, Hekel and Bazelitz. All of them are active in me to greater and lesser extents, but I now prefer the dignity of tradition over pop art. I term my own work as "radical traditionalism."