Saturday, 7 December 2013

pigdogandmonkeyfestos | Issue 2 | The Artists

In advance of the launch of pigdogandmonkeyfestos Issue 2 - Shaun Doyle & Mally Mallinson's second collection of contemporary artists' manifestos and works inspired by the manifesto format - here at AirSpace Gallery on Friday 13th December, 2013, we are presenting a short series of blogposts highlighting the artists presented in the Zine.

First up is Billy Childish and Harry Adams

Original ART HATE Field Sheets - Handbill Propaganda Series. First Issued by Dr. Albirt Umber, Flanders 1917. Re-issued by the ART HATE ARCHIVE September 2010.
Redesign by Billy Childish and Harry Adams courtesy of the L-13 Light Industrial Workshop of Clerkenwell.

Billy Childish  was born in Chatham, Kent in 1959. After leaving secondary school at age 16, he worked at the Naval Dockyard in Chatham as an apprentice stonemason. Initially denied an interview to the local art school, during six months of employment at the dockyard he produced hundreds of drawings that gained him entry to St. Martin's School of Art. Childish's defiance to authority and his insistence on integrity and personal style above the formalities of educational requirement led to his eventual expulsion from art school in 1981. Childish then embarked on an artistic, literary, and musical odyssey exploring a broad range of worldly themes including war, history, social protest, art hate, religious philosophy, as well his own experiences of alcoholism, and the sexual abuse he suffered as a child. Over 35 years of continual creative activity Childish has gained a cult status world-wide; writing and publishing over 40 volumes of confessional poetry, 5 novels, recorded over 100 LPs, and painted several hundreds painting.
Billy Childish has had solo and group exhibitions internationally including New York, London, and Berlin. He was included in British Art Show 5, which toured throughout four cities - Edinburgh, Southampton, Cardiff, and Birmingham. In 2010, he was the subject of major concurrent survey exhibitions at the ICA in London and White Columns in New York  

Harry Adams is the name of the artistic partnership between Steven Lowe and Adam Wood. Although the two artists have collaborated together closely since meeting at art school in 1988, where they studied painting, they only chose the presentational construct of Harry Adams in 2008. Despite their training as painters, their early collaborative projects were loud musical ones, since when they have engaged in many diverse activities including painting, drawing, film, performance, printmaking, photography, digital montage and poster design (especially the Art Hate project, in collaboration with Billy Childish), artists' books, publishing (poetry, novels, polemics), web projects, running galleries and curating. Their most notable musical project was STOT21stCplanB, whose accompanying videos and other related artworks reveal a strong visual sensibility. It is a long, hardworking partnership.
These assertions and appropriations, being brought to a great temperature in the furnace of the L-13 imagination, have sometimes generated incandescent light, and sometimes the fiery conflagrations and burn marks of destruction. Many shows, publications, events and performances have been made working in this way, the results of which will undoubtedly confuse future cataloguers and commentators hoping to make forensic sense of them - especially, perhaps, because of their often mysteriously unresolved endings. This interest in the nature of creation and creativity's relationship with the energies of destruction, and in both resolute and irresolute endings, has been a shared constant at L-13, and is now also seen in the paintings of Harry Adams.
As committed collaborators at art college, Steve Lowe and Adam Wood had wanted to be assessed for their degrees on the basis of a joint show, a performance they had both devised. But they were not allowed to do this, and had to give two separate performances, under their own individual names, for separate assessment. Although the performances were effectively the same, one artist was passed, the other was failed. This occasion was an important moment for them, making ideas of success and failure seem redundant, and has since played a defining role in their outlook. It has led to an indifference to - or defiance of - the received ideas that seek to determine whether an artist is doing well or badly - a position that is consistent with their theme of creative non-finality as opposed to a career identity.
Ideas of creation and destruction are central to the paintings, with whose themes we are familiar from our experience of the heavens and the utopias, the hells and apocalypses, of mythico-religious art from all times and all places. Within Harry Adams's paintings there is belief and disbelief, beauty and ugliness, order and disorder, dirt and cleanliness, and ecstasy and dysphoria. He summons and combines these polarities as dualities or paradoxes of discord and unity, and then evades tidy meanings, or deliberately misplaces conclusion. Saints are made grubby and grubby things are made beautiful, and ideals of love and beauty and holiness are recombined. He disrupts the perfectionism or absolutism of paintings by other artists, while ensuring that his interpretations are also homages to that absolutism or perfectionism. Huge architectural monoliths are depicted, whose important survival or cultural functions, as repositories, have their already complex meanings disrupted in further ambiguities of moral scale. 

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