He’s better known for stepping out on stage and providing some of the most memorable British pop moments in recent memory, but now Robbie Williams is swapping the microphone and the spotlight for an easel as he presents his first ever exhibition.
Williams and his creative partner, Ed Godrich, are presenting an exhibition of their black-and-white paintings and curating a sale at Sotheby’s that will feature some of their favorite artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Grayson Perry and Damien Hirst.
The pair’s love of street art, which created their bond and inspired their paintings, is the thread that runs through their exhibition and the sale.
Godrich and Williams’s Black and White Paintings exhibition will be on show at Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries from 13-25 May, while their Contemporary Curated sale runs from 22-28 April and includes works by graffiti writer turned art world star Basquiat, and street artist Richard Hambleton.
The pair describe the Canadian-born New York-based Hambleton – who uses brushes and black paint in pots to create “immense human shadows” – as “the daddy” of them all and a huge influence on their work. “He was at the forefront of a revolution that has continued to this day. To own a Richard Hambleton, acknowledges your deep understanding of street art, ”they said.
Williams and Godrich, who co-founded the interior architecture studio Godrich Interiors, said they went into “a meditative trance-like state” when they created their own work, and that it was not uncommon for them to forget painting certain parts of the canvas .
“There are references to so many things buried in the layers of each work, some private, some not. On closer inspection each viewer will perceive the content in a totally different way, ”they said.
In total, 14 of the duo’s works will be on display at the exhibition, with Williams and Godrich creating the paintings while listening to music (often Annie Mac’s DJ sets) in their Los Angeles studio that they share.
Other work in their curated sale includes the spot painting, 2- Hydroxypyridine by Damien Hirst, whom they describe as “a mischievous scamp”, and Grayson Perry’s self-portrait ceramics piece Him and Her. “The intriguing thing about this piece is it covers so many areas of Grayson’s creativity. We all need a ceramic of Grayson and a pink creature in our lives, ”they said. “Without Grayson, it all feels like a normal fraction.”
Williams, an early investor in Banksy, has dabbled in the art market before. In January he put up three works by Banksy from his private collection for a combined estimate of £ 10m. At the time he said the aim of selling Girl with Balloon, Vandalised Oils (Choppers) and Kissing Coppers was to free up space to be able to buy “new art from new people” and help fund his own work.
The former Take That singer first told fans about his love for art in 2011. In a blog post on his official website, he said that he was inspired by Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol and had taken up the practice during the group’s down time.
Williams reportedly created 40 large works during the Covid-19 lockdowns, and recently sold greetings card-sized artworks to help promote his new gallery, which doubles as a nightclub that he described as “the opposite of Studio 54, which was exclusive and pretentious” .
Godrich and Williams said: “We are proud of what we have created and it is time to share what has been coming out of our brains for the last few years. Doing an exhibition gives the work a chance to breathe outside of the studio. ”