About Charles Billich

Billich's sense of time, place, history and occasion has conditioned much of his work. His opus may be variegated and eclectic, at times playful to the point of mundanity, but he never lets you forget his perceived role as chronicler of the times, that his life is dedicated to visually document contemporary and personal experiences. He focuses on tragic events, some biographic, celebrations he attended or historic personalities. His fascination with distant pasts and myths transcends the mere recent. He has researched and speculated on history, particularly the Chinese, and has animated archaeological finds to give us hyperbolic glimpses of life as it could have been thousands of years ago. At times Billich is useful in the building of ethnic consciousness, as in the iconizing of the Xian terracotta soldiers.


Charles Billich was born in Lovran, in what was Italy, now Croatia, September 6th 1934. So coveted was Billich's native environment that in his own lifetime it was conquered by Italy (1918-1943), Germany (1943-1945), Yugoslavia (1945-1991) and finally Croatia (1991-). These events led to his ethno- disfunctionality and irrepressible allergies towards the antiquated concept of nationality, which often deteriorates into excesses of racist chauvinism, religious supremacy and class intolerance.

On a sunnier note he grew up speaking 4 languages, leading later to a further half dozen, contributing to his "international" profile. As a stateless person Charles Billich migrated to Australia on the Italian ship Toscana on her last voyage before scrapping. He was asked to join the two Australians teaching English on board and that was his first Australian job. Upon disembarkation he worked for the Employment Service at Bonegilla migrant camp, dispatching immigrants and political refugees from all over sovietized Eastern Europe to work all over the Australian continent. Three months later he went to Melbourne to study art at RMIT and the National Gallery Art School, working as a taxi driver, a sign writer, graphic designer and advertising art director before embarking on a risky career in fine art. He needn't have worried,

The Australian public rewarded him with immediate interest in all states. Billich came to an Australia which was awakening and being drawn closer to European artistic traditions. He remains in touch with his people, dismissing liberal snobbery, a stereotype culture and mainstream hoodwinking, favouring a "back to the future" avant-guardistic orthodoxy.

Billich has proposed Expressivism as a movement intended as an evasion from the spiritual and academic indigence of the insipid and unfocussed contemporary art scene. Expression, passion, movement, meaning, poignancy, piquantry and above all beauty constitute his manifesto.

"I believe in the resurgence of the artist's legitimate and respectable function in society and his responsibility to common sense and visual equilibrium. I foster the restitution of status and professionalism to practising artists, as distinct from the ones in education. I would like to alleviate the tragedy of repetition, imitation, indoctrination, excess and provocation. After all these years I still believe in utopia and serious quests for the unreachable."

Through Expressivism Billich aims to stir emotive passion, point to the realities of past and present injustices and callous indifference to blunders and disinformation. Also to jog the viewer's genetic sixth sense of aesthetics and make him participate in the pathos - and joys - of life.

Billich also regards religious painting as spiritually uplifting and the most sublime professional opportunity to bring one closer to his faith. Expressivism is his visual lingua franca through which he articulates the vast gamma of emotions inherent to mystical creations. The Passion of Christ, 14 stations of the Cross, he painted for the Church of St Leopold Mandich in Melbourne, is the ultimate example of his talent for capturing extreme and diverse bodily and facial expression. In adversity, suffering and love. He introduced visceral conviction to situations other artists preferred to treat symbolically, such as the carrying of the enormously heavy cross, the trauma of falling under it, the crippling ascent and brutality of the Calvary.

 

Charles in Video