New paintings by Robbie Williams and Ed Godrich to be unveiled in Dubai

The duo will present their latest collection of artworks at Sotheby's from November 30

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“They are childlike paintings for naughty grown-ups,” Robbie Williams quips.

We are discussing his latest endeavour, a collection of artworks he has produced with long-time friend and creative collaborator Ed Godrich — but while Williams is quick to joke, this is clearly something he takes very seriously.

The duo unveiled their first collection in May, in a solo exhibition organised by Sotheby’s in London. The second body of Williams Godrich works will be unveiled at Sotheby’s Dubai on November 30.

On until December 16, the exhibition, titled Black and White Paintings II, will feature 15 works. Abstract, multi-layered, monochromatic and entirely unique, they feature white swirls that evolve into animal-like faces before tapering off into more ambiguous shapes and forms. Every time you look, there is something new to see.

“They are kinda busy,” Godrich says. “I think some people could be a little overwhelmed by them, as there’s a lot of detail, but overwhelmed in a nice way. They are happy things to look at, so they should bring quite a lot of joy to people when they see them, because there’s humour, there’s music, there’s energy. We listen to music when they are painted — it’s a big, big thing, the music.”

Williams adds: “I think you can feel where we’ve been and you can feel what it’s meant to us and you can feel that there is a humour in the darkness.”

Steve by Williams Godrich. Photo: Sotheby's

The pair met when Godrich, in his former guise as an interior designer, was enlisted to decorate Williams’s London home more than a decade ago. Once the project was completed, they remained close friends and, united by a shared love of art, music and all things 1980s, and went on to become creative collaborators. They have spent the past five years developing their distinct artworks.

“We both have the same sensibilities when it comes to music and when it comes to who we were when we were both 21, and the overpowering nature of what music means to you and what images mean to you, and the indelible beautiful stain that they leave on your soul," says Williams.

While the 14 works in the initial collection unveiled in London all had female names that were particularly common in the UK in the 1980s, this second collection has been granted with male monikers from the same era. There’s Alan, Brian, Clive, Mike, Simon, Steve, and even Trevor.

“The paintings have these really strong characters,” says Godrich. “They are figurative and they are abstract and there are faces. So they have these really strong characters, which is why they’ve ended up with human names.

“The '80s is a big time for Rob and I. We constantly refer back to the '80s, we are constantly talking about things that happened in the '80s and things we did in the '80s, albeit separately. So we have given them names that remind us of the era.”

Williams says he has avoided reading any reviews of the works, but is clearly conscious that judgment of his artistic abilities may be coloured by his already considerable celebrity. “I was scared about metaphorically having my head kicked in,” he says of the London debut.

“That jump from music into the art world isn’t necessarily one that is encouraged by the people that view it. We had to be very careful about what the first glimpse of what this partnership is. Because one bad stone could sink the ship. But the things that have been seen now are a small arm of what we are going to achieve.

“It’s the first album of a band that hopes to have many albums and get to a greatest hits album, and maybe even two greatest hits albums.”

There is a fitting symmetry to the fact that Williams rang in the New Year in Dubai, with a performance at Atlantis, The Palm, and now, as 2022 draws to a close, finds himself back in the UAE showcasing a whole new skill set. He is a fan of the UAE, he says, and sees enormous potential for Dubai’s music scene.

“I like Dubai. I want to do a lot of work there. I’m not famous in North America. I had a residency in Vegas but all of my fans had to fly in. I see Dubai as Vegas, and I feel as though it can become something else, with all the best qualities of Vegas. I want to be an ambassador of entertainment to Dubai, because I can see what it is and what it can become.”

Updated: November 21, 2022, 5:06 PM
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