Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Chris Billington. Modern British Artist. Johann Wilhelm Schirmer. The Cheesewring, Mên-an-Tol. Botallack Mine. Software experiments. Flight 1549. Korea’s Arirang TV. R.A.P.P. QUELLE

Chris Billington in action

Chris Billington, 58, is internationally recognised as “one of the most exciting British modern artists painting today”, according to a speech given in Heimbach, 2010 by distinguished German art historian Professor Dr Frank Zehnder, Director of the Internationale Kunstakademie in Heimbach and Honorary Professor at the Institute of Art History, University of Bonn.   

Zehnder's words are astonishing, considering Billington only started painting five years ago, after studying abstract coastal and still life at the Penzance School of Art.   
Google Images captured on 6 June 2013
See footnote for a list of the artists. 
Professor Zehnder's opinion is endorsed by Google Images. Look up British modern artists and you’ll find Billington’s work: on 6 June 2013 it came up four times in the first three rows. He was in good company alongside Graham Sutherland, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Eric Ravilious, and Lowry.  Google admittedly got the British bit wrong as there were also paintings in the selection by Picasso, Francis Bacon (born in Dublin), Michael Onona (Casablanca), David Prentice and Klari Reiss ( USA). 

Ley Lines 2010.  Chris Billington

Billington' s  early inspiration came from Pierre Bonnard, Sir Peter Blake and David Hockney, also Hans Hoffman, for his writing and theories on art as much as his painting. He.has exhibited in the UK, USA, France, Germany, the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and Spain. Five of his paintings are in the permanent collection at the Jülich Museum. Others are in private collections worldwide, including Athens, Budapest, Cologne, Dubai, Istanbul, London, Paris, Moscow, Tokyo and New York. His work has been shown in various group exhibitions alongside Miró, Matisse, Picasso, Kandinsky, Terry Frost, Sandra Blow, Damien Hirst and Francis Bacon, as well as a two man show with Sir Peter Blake.   

Lizard Point 2010 by Chris Billington

Chris Billington’s most important commission to date began in 2010, when Professor Dr Frank Günter Zehnder staged a retrospective in Heimbach, “Auseinandersetzung – Künstlerdialoge zu Schirmer” on the great German landscape artist Johann Wilhelm Schirmer, with paintings from the Jülich Museum and other museums. Professor Zehnder included contemporary interpretations or ‘dialogues’ on Schirmer by German and other artists including Billington. His four paintings for the exhibition, including his version of Schirmer’s The Departure of the Man to Jericho Morning, c 1856, from the story of the Good Samaritan, were snapped up by the Jülich Museum.  He was asked to exhibit elsewhere in Germany and received further commissions from German collectors. 

Johann Wilhelm Schirmer,  1807-1863.
The Departure of the Man to Jericho Morning, c 1856,
is from the story of the Good Samaritan.
 Billington's painting  below right is based on the Schirmer painting above

Chris Billington with Professor Dr Frank Zehnder, 2010 
 Schirmer Retrospective Exhibition, Heimbach.

Lempertz by Johann Wilhelm Schirmer
Lempertz by Chris Billington, 2012 

Billington's Lempertz was commissioned by the Jülich Museum in 2012, after it had just acquired its latest painting of the same title by Schirmer, so that both could be officially presented to the Museum on International Museum Day last May. 

The Jülich Museum's curator, Marcell Perse, subsequently asked the artist to paint fifteen new landscapes for deconstruction and a historical comparison to mark 150 years since Schirmer’s death in 1863. The exhibition ‘Chris Billington. Colour and Reduction – Fifteen Landscapes to Johann Wilhelm Schirmer’ is being held from 19 October-10 November 2013. 
Some of these paintings are in the Jülich Museum 

Chris  Billington's dazzling paint pots.

Chris Billington in his studio in front of
Moonlight over Mên-an-Tol
Mên-an-Tol: the ancient stones near Madron
are still thought to be a fertility symbol

Chris Billington paints in acrylic and occasionally in oil and alkyd in his lovely light-filled studio on the Lizard peninsula.  His bold colours, geometric forms and intersecting lines give energy and space to his paintings, many of which are inspired by ancient landmarks. His paintings are framed in white tulip wood and signed CB.  He says his early inspiration came from Pierre Bonnard, Sir Peter Blake and David Hockney, also Hans Hoffman, “for his writing and theories on art as much as his painting.” He is influenced “by the mystical landscape, the reflective sea, and the vibration of the pure light in Cornwall, the land that I grew up in.” 

The Cheesewring 2009
by Chris Billington
The Cheesewring
Bodmin Moor
Crown Mines, Botallack,
West Cornwall 

Crown Mines, Botallack,West Cornwall 

Botallack-Arsenic Mine

 by Chris Billington 2009

  • Chris Billington’s first solo exhibition “Cornwall Heritage: Mines & Monuments” was held to great acclaim in Falmouth, August 2009. He then exhibited in October 2009 at the Count House Botallack, donating a painting for the St Just & District Trust Miners' Statue Appeal and the National Trust/Levant, to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Levant mining disaster in 1909. Billington had previously been a mill shift boss in Wheal Jane and Mount Wellington until they closed, so mines and monuments are a subject close to his heart.
Jubilee Pool by Chris Billington, 2010
This wonderful art deco pool in Penzance is where he swam as a child

 Art 75 Jubilee Pool 2010  by Chris Billington, 
The two photos show his skill in photography

Jubilee Pool, Penzance
Janner rounding the mark

  • Billington had a delightful exhibition Working Boats in August 2010 at the Steele Gallery in Falmouth where he then lived and painted them live from his windows overlooking the harbour. 
Flying High 2011
  • Billington exhibited Black Kites – Eifel Gold for @ Atelier Radeerscheidt, Bad Munsterfeifel, Germany in  February 2011. He rarely does people, still life or animals, so it is interesting to see his painting of a kite in the Eifel region in Germany.
Still Life with Apple. 2009

The Holographic Principle

  • In June 2012 Billington exhibited 27 paintings in response to the significance of the year 2012. He researched many ideologies and religions for 'Secrets & Symbols’ at the Arthouse Gallery in Bournemouth. He explained the Holographic Principle in the catalogue to the exhibition: "In essence, the three dimensional world that we experience is simply a reflection where everything lives on a surface rather than in volume."
    We Three Cosmic Kings.  December 2012
  • His Colours of Christmas exhibition for the Blake Gallery in Gravesend 2012 was clearly influenced by his Christian upbringing. The Three Kings are the only figures of people in his very full website gallery, which must be significant, although they are headless.

    Euskaltel 2012 by Chris Billington
  • In 2012 Billington was commissioned to paint Euskaltel, the Basque cycling team, as long as it showed their orange colours. Billington featured orange and an arresting combination of other bright colours to evoke the mountainous climbs and perilous curves taken by cyclists in the Pyrenees. The cyclists are painted as orange dots taking the lead during a race.
Democracy hangs in Billington's studio
"We'll always have Delaunay"
by Chris Billington 2013
Tribute to Delaunay's Eiffel Tower 

Lille Art Fair
The 29th Day by Chris Billington shows his innovative approach using software for these T-shirts commissioned by Sequoia Tees, Amsterdam
Digital image in acrylic.

Magnetic Sun by Chris Billington
Sequoia Tees, Amsterdam
Digital image in acrylic

BIG BANG by Chris Billington
Sequoia Tees, Amsterdam
Digital print on aluminium

  • Billington innovates and experiments with processes based on a combination of his own images, painted, photographed or digitally created with software and worked on using traditional and studio techniques. The 29th Day, Magnetic Sun and BIG BANG experiments were conceived for the Sequoia Tees project in Amsterdam.  Sequoia Tees sells limited edition tee shirts by the greatest living artists in the world, according to their website . Well-known artists are invited to create a unique design which is manually printed onto a numbered T-shirt, which makes them collectors’ items. 
  • Charles Saatchi saw Billington's potential as an investment early on: Saatchi Online sells a wide selection of his prints.
  • Cologne newspaper  the Kölnische Rundschau called Chris Billington "Shooting Star der Britische Kuntszene“ (Shooting Star of the British Artscene) in a headline on February 17th, 2011.
  • Billington contributed to the John B Baldasari project “Your Name in Lights”  in Amsterdam, June 2011.
  • Billington also experiments with sound, video and imagery in digital format to reflect the modern, fast-paced technological world. His video and soundtrack “antisocial Media Generation” was awarded “Best Video Report” in 2011 by Korea’s Arirang TV.
Rapper/Hip Hop artist R.A.P.P. Quelle
used Billington's 2010 painting ‘Fandangos In Space’
for the cover of his 2012
 #OurWorld-Ode to Isaac-
    • Printmaking is an important part of Billington's work.
    "What you can see in my painting is Flight 1549 sitting on the Hudson River, having flown through a flock of geese, its tailfin standing proud complete with the American Airlines logo which to me was symbolic of a cross, the whole miraculous scene appearing to be the result of an act of divine intervention.  Of course the plane and its passengers were brought down safely due to the skill, foresight and heroism of the pilot but this painting is to show you how I actually see things".

    The words come from a recent talk on creativity by Chris Billington  at the  Tremough Innovation Centre run by Plymouth University on behalf of Cornwall Council.  He generously produced and gave a limited edition of 80 prints of Flight 1549,  signed and numbered, to the lucky people who came to hear him.

    Printing by Advanced Graphics

    Longview on Longships 2012 by Chris Billington,
    which he donated to the Marie Curie Charity Ball

    Billington is indeed generous and often donates a painting to charities, among them Tanya’s Courage Trust, Spectrum Art, Hospice South West’s Precious Lives Appeal, (a children’s hospice),  Hop Skip and Jump, (a Kingswood centre for children with special needs), Macmillan Cancer Support,  LARF (Lauren and Rosie’s Fund), Marie Curie Cornwall and the Blind Association.

    Billington is also a talented photographer, public speaker and art critic. He has an excellent website and a large following on YouTubeTwitter, Facebook and Linked In. He is currently working hard to complete fifteen paintings for the forthcoming exhibition at the Jülich Museum in October to mark fifteen decades since Schirmer's death in 1863, with many other projects to fulfil.  He is married to Jennie and they have four children and three grandchildren.

    No man is a prophet in his own country. Heimbach and the Jülich Museum have led the way in recognizing Chris Billington's exceptional talents. 

    It is high time the Tate St Ives in Cornwall, Tate Modern and other museums in the UK exhibited and acquired his works.

    Poster for ‘Colour and Reduction
     Fifteen Landscapes to Johann Wilhelm Schirmer’  
    by Chris Billington. 19 October - 10 November 2013 
     Zitadelle Chapel,  Jülich Museum

    List of Artists taken from search for modern British artists in Google Images, 6 June 2013.  

    (Left to right).Row 1

    1. 1936, David Prentice: Landscape
    2. Graham Sutherland: Crucifixion
    3. Damien Hirst: Dots
    4. Chris Billington Men-an-Tol 2010
    5. Michael Onona Morocco Casablanca 1967 nude
    6. Andrew Macara 1944 Derbyshire  Seaside

    Row 2.
    7. Sylvia Antonsen: Lighthouse
    8. Klari Reis:Crohns disease
    9. Picasso Three Dancers 1925
    10. Francis Bacon: Crucifixion 1933
    11. Katty McMurray:  1970
    12. Jake and Dinos Chapman
    13. Chris Billington Lille Art Fair 2013

    Row 3
    14. Chris Billington Lille Art Fair 2013
    15  'M-Theory, The Mother of all Superstrings' by Chris Billington; 
    the painting was also used for the front cover of the French art magazine Close To Art.
    16. Natasha Kissell: The Vertical Hour
    17. Lowry 1945 The Playground
    18. Sally Trueman The Hat 2012
    19. Eric Ravilious
    20. Tracey Emin