Photographic Realism: The Art of Richard Billingham by Kieran Cashell (Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland)
One of the most captivating and provocative artists of the Sensation generation, Richard Billingham (b. 1970) came to prominence in the late 1990s with his visceral photobook Ray's a Laugh, a slice of everyday life in a high-rise sink estate in the British West Midlands. This book is the first comprehensive discussion of Billingham's art practice. Articulating the socio-historical, aesthetic, geographical as well as anthropological aspects of Billingham's art, the book situates his work within the British neorealist tradition in visual art, cinema and televisual culture. Beginning with the first photographic studies of his father in the early 1990s, Cashell argues that these sympathetic, haunting images prefigure the later development of his thematic concerns. Significant consideration is also given to Billingham's cinematic oeuvre, including his recent feature-length autobiographical film, Ray & Liz, which substantially clarifies the complex continuity of his developing aesthetic vision. Illustrated throughout with colour and black and white reproductions, Photographic Realism: The Art of Richard Billingham combines investigative research with interviews and studio conversations, providing a subtle and sophisticated critical evaluation of the artist's key photographic and film-based works from the 1990s to the present.