Billy Chainsaw is a contemporary Pop Artist whose work uses a fertile mix of pulp and the arcane to engage with ideas of mortality, magick and sensuality.
With his up-cycling of ceramics and his on-canvas appropriation of pop and cult iconography, his is a transformative art. Working with paints, photographs and decals, Chainsaw has developed a personal armoury of imagery and gestural approaches which are instantly recognisable yet seemingly open to infinite experimentation.
Chainsaw says he has no interest in perfection. He’s far more passionate about the ragged edges, the uneven surface and the traces of previous mistakes. All of which combine to provide the volatile seedbed of his works. At the heart of all his art – be it ceramic, canvas or beyond – is a painstaking process of layering which often takes several days.
Chainsaw cites the notorious beat generation author William S. Burroughs as his ‘ghost muse’. Burroughs is an artist who emerged from the counter culture to assume a totemic presence within the mainstream. Like Salvador Dali, The Ramones, Frida Kahlo or Bob Marley, Burroughs’ visual image is recognised even by those unacquainted with his artistic output. The US experimental author has long been a touchstone for Chainsaw, but not just as a poster boy for those who prefer their artists spattered with the markings of the outlaw. Rather, Chainsaw grapples with some of the deeper themes running through Burroughs’ work. Ideas such as art being a magickal tool and an instrument of change, or notions of death and decay having their own special beauty.
Like Burroughs’ oeuvre, Chainsaw’s art represents a collision of the matter of fact and the fantastical, the elemental and the quotidian, the highbrow and the lowbrow.
Chainsaw’s previous work has been exhibited in numerous highly regarded galleries such as the Saatchi Gallery London and the Chateau L’Amour Gallery California. He has had three solo shows in London, including one at the infamous Horse Hospital, as well as taking part in numerous group shows. He has also designed an album sleeve for indie superstars, The Fall, as well as creating an exclusive fabric design for cutting-edge design company Charles of London. For many years he’s also operated as a film critic and cultural commentator, writing for publications as diverse as Empire, Bizarre and Kerrang!
(Includes text by Graham Duff: Screenwriter, director and actor. Writer of Ideal, Hebburn, Nebulous, and Doctor Terrible’s House of Horrible.)
Upcycled, one-off, ceramic works gallery:
For the BRIGHTON: PLACES, SPACES & FACES show, Chainsaw presents three new works reflecting on Brighton’s darker past, featuring Aleister Crowley and the “Chocolate Creme Killer”.
ABOUT “CROWLEY LIKES TO BE BESIDE THE SEASIDE”:
Controversial occultist Aleister Crowley died in Hastings in 1947 but – in accordance with his will – he was turned to ash at Woodvale Crematorium in Brighton. After the funeral had taken place, the local Council declared the event a desecration of holy land and an act of abuse against the entire town. The Brighton public was so terrified by tabloid reports that a Black Mass would be performed on their doorstep that, following the event, Christian services were conducted to counteract the malevolent forces they feared Crowley’s acolytes had unleashed on the locality. An inter-congregational prayer meeting was held at St. Peter’s Church, to packed-out pews.
ABOUT “SWEET POISON”:
In the late 1860s, well-respected and highly-educated Christiana Edmunds became known as the Chocolate Creme Killer, after poisoning several Brighton locals (one fatally), in an attempt to murder her lover’s wife. She purchased chocolate creams from a local confectioner, took them home, laced them with strychnine and returned them to the shop. The confectioner then sold them to the public, not knowing that they had been poisoned. Initially, Edmunds obtained the strychnine from a local chemist, on the pretence that she needed it to poison stray cats – a chemist that was located at 10 Queens Road – what is now the shop next-door to Conclave gallery!
High 5! Works
For the Summer Group Show exhibition, Chainsaw is showing works from his “The Visitor” series, which reflects on the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landings and the 50th anniversary of David Bowie’s seminal album, “Space Oddity” (both from 1969).
Billy Chainsaw has also presented his solo show REAPERDELICA at CONCLAVE, click here for more information.