Lilias Buchanan

29 Mar — 11 Apr 2017 at Shapero Modern in London, United Kingdom

Lilias Buchanan. Courtesy of Shapero Modern
Lilias Buchanan. Courtesy of Shapero Modern
16 MAR 2017

Shapero Modern is delighted to present a solo exhibition of new works by the Scottish artist and musician Lilias Buchanan. The show is directly inspired by American writer Richard Brautigan’s 1976 cult classic, Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel, and is comprised of nine small scale paintings exquisitely rendered in pencil, watercolour and collage.

The assembled works, which have been created over a two year period, channel the book’s two parallel narrative threads. The first focuses on a heartbroken American writer who has recently been left by his Japanese lover. His obsessive thoughts about her prevent him from concentrating on a story he is writing, in which a sombrero falls from the sky in a sleepy town in the American southwest. Eventually, and despairingly, the author throws what he has written into the wastepaper basket, but the discarded story continues to write itself, so beginning the second narrative, which recounts a bizarre tale in which the sombrero becomes an object of fascination, attracting enormous crowds and fierce debate before ultimately provoking a civil war.

Buchanan’s intention with the paintings riffs on the duality of the book that inspired them, in that each work reflects both the subtlety of Brautigan’s writing and the merged use of graphite and watercolour at the heart of her practice, which sees her juxtapose the saturated, stark monochrome of the writer sitting alone in his apartment with the psychedelic palette of the sombrero in the wastepaper basket.

The artist admits the creation of this body of work and her interest in Brautigan’s novel has bordered on the obsessional, leading her to approach strangers in the street who bore a resemblance to Brautigan’s characters, and asking them to pose for her. She even bought up all the sombrero postcards she could find on eBay to fuel her passion.

For Buchanan the exhibition is both a celebration of Brautigan – Jarvis Cocker has described him as the Hemingway of the 1960’s – and a campaign to introduce his writing to new audiences. To this end, the exhibition will include a first edition of Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel and other historical artefacts courtesy of Dr. John F. Barber, founder, curator and archivist of the Richard Brautigan Archives. The exhibition will also house the launch of ‘Seeing Richard’ for the first time in the UK, a book of previously unpublished and rare images of Richard Brautigan taken by the photographer Erik Weber and published by Tangerine Press. There will be a limited number of signed, limited edition books on sale, which include a foreword by Jarvis Cocker and introduction by William Hjortsberg (author of Falling Angel and Jubilee Hitchhiker).

Says gallery director Tabitha Philpotte Kent: ‘Lilias Buchanan is a refreshing new talent, and it is a great honour to be showing this compelling series of work at Shapero Modern. We are also delighted that Lilias has chosen to curate within her exhibition a presentation of Richard Brautigan’s work, adding a further dimension to an already compelling show.’

Lilias Buchanan (b.1989) was born in Dundee, Scotland, Buchanan trained at Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design, London, where she was shortlisted for the Josh Turley Memorial Prize and graduated with a first class BA (Hons) in Graphic Design (Illustration). She also completed The Drawing Year, the MA level course, at The Royal Drawing School, London, and was awarded the Patron’s Prize. Three of her works are in the collection of HRH The Prince of Wales – the paintings Keenan of Ayr (2012), Daewoo Digger (2012) and the drawing, Grinling Gibbons’ Flowers (2012). Her work is also in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut and her portrait, Richard Strange and his Robin Hood Arrow (2014), which was shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award 2014, is in the permanent art collection of The House of St Barnabas, London. At the invitation of galleries and designers she has been invited to be artist in residence giving ‘live drawing’ performances parallel to exhibitions and as part of special events including the Royal Academy, London, for the exhibitions, In the Age of Giorgione (2016) and Giovanni Battista Moroni (2015), and Stella McCartney for her Green Carpet Challenge at the Royal Institution in 2014. Group exhibitions include The Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours Annual Exhibition, The Mall Galleries, London (2017), Drawings from The Royal Drawing School, Christie’s, New York (2016), Over and Out, Imperial Works, London (2014), The Memory Palace of Romilly Saumarez Smith, 133e 135 Mile End Road, London (2011), The Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition, The Mall Galleries, London (2011).

Lilias is also the singer, songwriter and guitarist with three- piece garage punk band, The Graphites who headlined the ICA at the Fig 2 closing party in December, 2015. Their EP These Streets was followed by their debut single, Grayson Perry, released in 2013 under the name, The Graphite Set. They are soon to release their EP Emerald Boy early this year. She lives and works in London.

Richard Brautigan (1935i 1984) was an American novelist, poet and short story writer most known for his 1967 novel Trout Fishing in America (1967), which became an international bestseller and sold more than 4 million copies worldwide. He struggled with alcoholism and depression throughout his adult life, and committed suicide eight years after Sombrero Fallout was published.