The Bomb Factory is very excited to present X LAND, artist Billy X’s debut solo show at our Archway gallery on June 1st. The paintings in the show offer an autobiographical insight into the artist's life, particularly the experiences that have impacted him as a young black man living in the UK.
At times controversial, this series of works vibrate with intense sexuality as well as refreshing political incorrectness, they are diaristic and confessional in tone, whilst simultaneously unpacking the ideas and stereotypical attitudes associated with being young male and black. Somewhat reminiscent of Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress c.1733–5, in its satirical and diaristic approach, Billy X's sequence of paintings follows the sometimes, shocking and sometimes amusing exploits and daydreams of a young man engaging in all aspects of life. Yet unlike Hogarth, who was keen to use his satirical caricatures as a way to shock the general public into action, concerning the vices and addictions that he felt were ruining English society, there is no proselytising here but rather an expose of the artist and the attitudes he encounters throughout his exploits.
X LAND is not a modern morality tale of a young man's dissolution into despair and ruin but rather an extraordinary account of the artist's colourful life and imaginings in this very contemporary and controversial series of paintings.
We will have an evening for an artist talk and open mic during the exhibition run, with more details to follow. We hope you can join us for this edifying exhibition.
“There’s no mystery here other than the fantasies I have. It’s all either something I’ve seen, or heard happened, or have actually been through in various degrees of abstraction. I am aware of the overarching preoccupation I have with sex - for some reason I have always linked sex to my survival. My mother doesn’t know this but one time she said to me, “You know, I don’t care, you can be anything you want to be”. I would always think of a pornstar. I remember thinking this before I was even old enough to have sex.
As I have read a bit and learned a few words, I’ve pinned it down to some sort of predisposition that men that look like me have. Black men are good for fucking and not much else. Now, I know this isn’t true completely. It’s stereotypical, though the problem with most stereotypes is that they do exist and are based on commonality in society. I’m not saying you cannot be anything else if you are black, I’m simply saying what would happen if you just took the path of please resistance. Sex is a pleasure. But it’s also a commodity today.
I like lampooning things - not viciously just for a laugh. I don’t hold dreams of a Utopia, but I try to show what people don’t want to admit. Hold the mirror up and see if people can own up to their feelings or try to maintain moral uprightness. It’s not all sex. Some stuff is just observations and “wouldn’t it be funny if…”
I’m no activist and I’m not someone who particularly likes the idea of one homogenous group speaking for the hearts and minds of individuals. That’s the ultimate point. This is the perspective of a guy who in 2015 wanted to drink his liver to failure and sleep with as many women as possible. That was the pinnacle of my aspirations. I don’t drink and I practice abstinence now. That said, I am embracing an immutable part of my character. I would say to any young black person - find something that’s in you, it will be the most honest thing about you, and cherish it. There is some healing there. It will embolden you. It did for me.”
Location: Bomb Factory Archway: Unit 2, Boothby Road, N19 4AJ
Private View: Thursday 1st June, 6 - 9pm
Opening Hours: Daily from 11am - 6pm by appointment