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The Beautiful Fallen: Billy Bleed

Billy Bleed

Billy Bleed is a Melbourne-based artist whose first solo exhibition is taking place at Magenta in Stuart Street, Perth. OUTinPerth had a chat to the artist to discuss the works that make up his exhibition, ‘The Beautiful Fallen’.

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Bleed says his works are inspired by the people he meets in his day job as a social worker.

“At the moment I’m working in a busy emergency department in Melbourne and it’s in the Western suburbs so it’s a very low socio-economic, migrant, lots of drug use, lots of family break ups, just disadvantaged. They come in every day and I deal with all of those differences but I guess every person that I see I actually learn something from, and I get something back from.”Billy Bleed 2

Bleed works with homeless people, prostitutes, children and criminals, and brings their stories to the canvas. He says he hopes to celebrate humanity’s diversity to his work.

“We talk about tolerance, and tolerating differences. I don’t like that word because that’s ‘to put up with’. I think we should teach about respect and acceptance and understanding. And I think a lot of my paintings, because of the people that I work with, they’re people that we are told to tolerate, and we frown upon. With the bright colours it gives that sort of gentler sort of approach and I guess I’m hoping that people look at them, question what they’re about, make their own interpretations, but start thinking about how to accept and respect others and differences.”

Bleed says he uses his distinctive colour pattern to draw viewer in to the often dark stories behind the images.

“Everybody can identify with colour, it sort of cheers them up, but if you look at the they’re quite- I mean, someone said they’re quite sinister with characters. But the colour is also very childlike, naive.”

In his creative process, Bleed says he takes time to let the painting find itself.

“I don’t come up with an idea an think ‘I’m going to paint that’, I just start, throw my paint at the canvas and the canvases- I know it sounds really clichéd but the canvases tell me when to stop.”

According to Bleed, the painting isn’t finished until he can’t pick up the brush to continue.

“A lot of them have probably got fifty, sixty layers from where I started one way and then put the canvas aside and picked them up a week later and emotionally went in a completely different direction.”Part of what makes Bleed’s work to accessible is that he allows the work to be open to interpretation. He says he avoids overanalysing his work so that it can maintain its sense of innocence.

“If I question and think about and critique my art too much I think it takes it to a whole new level where it sort of dehumanizes it all. I look at some paintings now and I’m like ‘Did I paint that? Did I actually paint that one?’ Because when I am painting, I’m blank. I don’t know what’s going on. You sit around and talk about them too much it takes away that human element.”

Sophie Joske

The Beautiful Fallen’ is on at Magenta until August 24th. Images from the exhibition’s launch are below.

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