'I was terrified': British pop star Robbie Williams steps out of his comfort zone to show the world his paintings

‘I was terrified’: British pop star Robbie Williams steps out of his comfort zone to show the world his paintings

With millions in record sales, countless accolades and sold-out gigs under his belt, British pop superstar Robbie Williams might seem like he’s got it all. But there’s still at least one area the “Angels” singer didn’t feel safe in, and that’s one that’s featured as a contemporary artist at London Gallery Weekend this year.

“I was terrified because in the UK you’re not allowed out of your box, and my box is definitely the pop world. So I’m worried about the kick in the head that I am going to get for straying out of my way,” Williams told Artnet News during the invite-only show’s opening reception on Thursday night. “But at the same time, I’m compelled and obsessed, so I will do it.”

With creative partner Ed Godrich, Williams unveiled 14 black and white paintings the couple worked on together at Sotheby’s New Bond Street space, ahead of London Gallery Weekend, which kicks off in the UK capital today. Artistic collaborators also curated a gallery trail for the three-day event, featuring five central London galleries.

Sharon during their first exhibition “Black and White Paintings” at Sotheby’s London. Courtesy of Sotheby’s. “width=”1024″ height=”683″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/05/TF16244-1024×683.jpg 1024w, https://news.artnet.com /app/news-upload/2022/05/TF16244-300×200.jpg 300w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/05/TF16244-50×33.jpg 50w” sizes=”(max -width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”/>

Robbie Williams (left) and Ed Godrich posing in front of their painting Sharon during their first exhibition “Black and White Paintings” at Sotheby’s New Bond Street. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Each of the 14 works, created under the nickname Williams Godrich, is titled after a popular woman of the 1980s, ranging from Janet and Donnafor Tracy and trish. The large-scale paintings on polystyrene feature detailed figures that look like a cross between whimsical cartoon faces or secret codes written in white brushstrokes on a black background. The works, available for private sale at Sotheby’s, are the fruit of five years of work, according to the artist duo.

“Ed came to LA, where I had a huge garage,” Williams said of the start of the partnership. The couple bought “heaps of paint, tons and tons of canvas and wood,” Williams added, and took them to the garage. “We were there with the paintings and we were like, ‘So what?'” he said. “We made mistake after mistake, until the mistakes became something that felt like a thing.”

The pair first met when Godrich, an established interior designer, designed the pop star’s London home 10 years ago. “We clicked creatively. We developed our technique and we learned to work together,” Godrich said. The duo worked on about 10 paintings at the same time, “so Rob can be there, and I can be there, sometimes next to each other,” he added. “The fact that it’s made on polystyrene is why we get this amazing, smoky texture.”

The couple, both born in 1974, took the development process seriously, but wanted to keep their art “whimsical and silly”, Williams said. There is also an element of nostalgia built into the black and white paintings, with subtle references to the music scene they grew up in.

“Me, leaving the pop world to do art… I put a lot of fantasy on,” Williams said. “It’s who I am, what I want to be, and I know the art world is a very serious world. But that’s not me, and that’s not who we are. If you don’t watch it and think about 80s cartoons, or what it would feel like to walk straight into a cartoon, you’re missing the point.

Robbie Williams performs during the X Factor Italy 2019 Final at Mediolanum Forum.  Milan (Italy), December 12, 2019

Robbie Williams performs during the X Factor Italy 2019 Final at Mediolanum Forum. Milano.

But have the duo ever argued over artistic differences over the past five years? “Not discussed…” Godrich said “I am…” Williams intercepted: “Overbearing.”

“Here’s the thing. He’s bossy in the best way, because his eye and what he wants to do, with what he’s looking at, I trust him 1,000%,” Williams added. “If I do something right, it’s by mistake. If he does something right, it’s on purpose.

Despite the self-deprecation, Williams has recently made a name for herself in the art world, both as an art collector and an artist. The pop star donated a trio of Banksy artworks from his private collection earlier this year to raise money for his other creative endeavors. One work was withdrawn, but the other two paintings fetched a total of $9.5 million at Sotheby’s in March. The auction house declined to reveal pricing for the Williams Godrich collaborative paintings currently on display, but a work by the pair sold at its Contemporary Curated sale in April for £40,320 ($49,116 including fees), that’s nearly double pre-sale estimates.

The black-and-white paintings are among many ongoing art projects, Williams noted. But to go further, the duo will need advice “on what happens next”, he added. “We’ve got plenty of ideas, but we both have ADHD. We need an adult to catch the best of us and implement it for us, or we’ll have a thousand ideas, and nothing at all. it won’t be done,” Williams said.

Making art is like “having a super power”, he said. “But I don’t want it to be these paintings on the wall, and the next day it will be over, that’s all. I want to build a hotel. I want to do the interiors. I want to put a restaurant and some art in the hotel.

What if we opened our own gallery? “Maybe,” Williams considered. “It’s a good idea.”

“Black and White Paintings” runs until May 25.

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