Pushkin House, 5A Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2TA
9 October - 23 December 2014

All-Russian Decorative Art Museum, Delegatskaya st., 3, Moscow 127473
7-28 February 2016

'Our Friend Larionov'
Billy Childish
Harry Adams
Edgeworth Johnstone

In the spirit of an international unity of artists
- at a time beset by geopolitical tensions - 'Our Friend Larionov' is a celebration of radical heritage: an exhibition of collaborative paintings made in response to the Russian avant-garde artist Mikhail Larionov (1881-1964).

Press Release

In the spirit of an international unity of artists - at a time beset by geopolitical tensions - 'Our Friend Larionov' is a celebration of radical heritage: an exhibition of collaborative paintings made in response to the Russian avant-garde artist Mikhail Larionov (1881-1964).

Recognising a kindred spirit in Larionov, Childish first mooted the title of the show in 2006 and even made several paintings in homage to Larionov's Neo-Primitive style - which was itself a fusion of modernism and traditional Russian folk-art presented as an affront to contemporary aestheticism - but the show never came to fruition. However, when in 2014 Pushkin House invited Childish, Adams and Johnstone to make an exhibition in response to Russian culture it was decided to realise the title and make new paintings that form the body of this show. In this instance the artists have collaborated together* in a studio approach to painting, colliding the lyrical and grandiose beauty of their individual creations with a more brazen and gnarled beauty that defies easy acceptance.

Embracing individuation and the encouragement of demiurgic dimensions in art, Childish, Adams and Johnstone take the figurative form as an anchor from which they divulge worlds of harmony and discord that celebrates the elemental make-up of the creation. So they honour the ideals as proposed by the modernist movements of the early 20th century and make work that sidesteps the tyranny of fashionable cultural concerns.; favouring instead the development of spiritual understandings which highlights the potential of picture making as an ongoing radical force.

*For these collaborations Childish proposed the forming of a new painting group Heckel's Horse and a one page testament containing a 13 point edict has been published by L-13 in celebration. Both Russian and English versions are available.


About The Artists


"We all went through Larionov's school", said the poet Mayakovsky. Before he left the country in 1915, Larionov was Russian art's most restless genius.
Larionov started his artistic career with a success as a postimpressionist, but subsequently rejected the professional recognition he had achieved in favour of different aesthetic explorations, which became an 'evolving' model for most avant-garde artists.
Larionov wrote: "my task is not to assert the new art, since after that it would cease to be new, but to attempt as much as possible to move it forward. In a word, to do what life itself does as it every second gives birth to new people and creates new ways of life, out of which new possibilities are continually born".
As the art historian Nina Gurianova wrote, "His provocative ideas tested limits and anticipated the postmodernist mentality in their "everythingness" and deliberate aesthetic eclecticism. He even rejected the major modernist stipulation of authenticity and originality, arguing that there is no difference between a copy and an original".
Betting on the provocative aspect of his work, Larionov deliberately injected the established art world with the "low" tradition of the urban primitive. This action was not aimed so much to shock as to create a new aesthetic system with different points of reference, a system in which the borders between "high" and "low" in art would be eroded.

Billy Childish was born in Chatham, Kent in 1959. After leaving school at 16, he worked at the Naval Dockyard in Chatham as an apprentice stonemason. Initially denied an interview to the local art school, he later gained entry to St. Martin's School of Art. However Childish's defiance led to his eventual expulsion from art school in 1981. He then embarked on an artistic odyssey.

Childish has exhibited internationally, including in New York, London, and Berlin. His work was included in British Art Show 5 in 2010, and was the subject of major concurrent survey exhibitions at the ICA in London and White Columns in New York.

Edgeworth Johnstone was in born Brussels in 1977, and lives and works in London. He has played guitar in bands since 14 years of age & started painting at 28. He maintains an ardent daily practice of making paintings drawings and prints, exhibiting widely in group shows including No Soul For Sale, Tate Modern, London 2010. Since 2013 he's been visiting Billy Childish's studio every Monday where he makes paintings in collaboration with him.

Harry Adams is the name of the artistic partnership between Steven Lowe and Adam Wood. They have collaborated together closely since meeting at art school. In recent years, the focus of their activity has been the L-13 Light Industrial Workshop. This is a gallery, publisher and workshop premises set up by Steven Lowe which provides a vehicle not only for Harry Adams but also for other artists, including Jimmy Cauty, Jamie Reid and Billy Childish.

The Harry Adams paintings have only been exhibited outside of L-13 since 2013, since when they have enjoyed successful solo exhibitions in Munich and Milan.