Laughing at the UK is his job: An artist searching for meaning in a confused homeland | icon

“What is not imitation is plagiarism,” said Eugenio Dors. But what tradition? Charlie Billingham (London, 38) is part of a visual world that permeated his childhood. His parents enthusiastically collected prints by artist George Cruikshank. The name Cruikshank is not familiar outside Great Britain, but there he is part of the school which, under the tolerant policy of the British Government…

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“What is not imitation is plagiarism,” said Eugenio Dors. But what tradition? Charlie Billingham (London, 38) is part of a visual world that permeated his childhood. His parents enthusiastically collected prints by artist George Cruikshank. Cruikshank's name is not familiar outside Great Britain, but there he is part of the school which, under the policy of toleration pursued by the British government during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, marked a sharp criticism of the reality of the time. Today, when her country's Prime Minister Liz Truss has resigned after only 44 days in office, and when the UK's political crisis in 2022 has appeared on several Wikipedia pages, that critical and cynical view seems more in vogue than ever.

“I was amazed by his work and felt a close connection with those images,” he says. So, like others who fuel their childhood fantasies with Hergé or Oduerzo, Bellingham contemplated the satirist's scenes for hours. He had to reach his formative years at the Royal Academy in London to realize the unique nature of that bond. “It was then that I began to explore the reasons why I was drawn to his work. I felt that there was something in his prints that had a great connection to my own drawings.

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One of Charlie Billingham's works is on display at Travesia Quattro Gallery.Fourth trip

He investigated Cruikshank's contemporaries: Mosques Gillray and Thomas Rowlandson's erotica, are closely linked to a tradition that begins with the painting of William Hogarth and the literature of Charles Dickens. His subject matter may seem far-fetched, but Billingham finds radical significance in his scenes. “It shows how little the world has changed. Man is the same today as he was in the 18th century. “Very similar things to what happened then happen in politics.”

for him Exhibition at Travesía Gallery 4 It's full of cartoons captured in an instant. “I free my works from narrative by cutting out part of the original engraving and taking it into the drawing. The hand can be more interesting than the face. The face is clear and specific, while the gesture is universal.” A crowd watching the sky, or a group of dogs giving thanks, or bodies She appears naked, holding a question. “I don’t like to dictate to the viewer what to get out of each piece. The interpretation is always open,” he comments with conviction. Behind him, in his office, is a large green frog.

Charlie Billingham's works, which emulate the reality of British politics and life, can be seen at the Travesia Quattro Gallery.Fourth trip

Billingham's painting conveys great graphic intensity. He created these works while incarcerated. “When I looked at the whole thing I realized they were all talking about bewilderment and confusion. It arose spontaneously.” Exhibition title, Inflation (which is usually translated as swell, but also grow or increase) refers to the tides. They are the waves of a stormy sea covering the walls of the gallery, and Bellingham sealed them with a stamp that suggests an English expression: Being at seaThat is, being at sea, which is equivalent to confusion and confusion. The frog seems to confirm images of a partial and fragmented world, a world that is no longer complete.

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The Swell exhibition is at Travesía Gallery 4 (San Mateo, 16) until November 5

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