I t should come as no surprise that Robbie Williams describes his artistic collaboration with Ed Godrich as “like a band”. The duo have been making art together ever since they bonded over a love of acid house music and raves. However, while there are countless examples of artist double acts – think of Gilbert & George or Chapman brothers Jake and Dinos – this one is unusual in that it consists of one of the most successful British pop stars of the past three decades and the founder of a leading interior architecture studio. According to Godrich it all began with an invitation from the singer to stay at his house in Los Angeles. The designer had met Williams and his wife Ayda Field through his husband, the real estate agent Johnny Bergius, and they hit it off immediately. Williams had recently watched the Banksy documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, and was inspired by the graffiti artist's raw punk philosophy. This, together with his and Godrich’s already rich knowledge of art history and collecting, inspired them to journey into painting together.
Cut to five years later and Godrich and Williams have a considerable body of work behind them, some of which will be showcased at Sotheby’s in May during London Gallery Weekend. Their art looks the way acid house sounds: vibrant, euphoric and pulsating with life.
Are they nervous about putting their art out there? “There’s jeopardy to me stepping out of my lane,” Williams admits, noting that there may be a few wondering what he’s been doing. Thankfully the reactions so far have been positive. “Friends have been asking to buy our work, which has given us some confidence,” says Godrich. “Now we’ve run out of space, so it’s time for some of our paintings to flee the nest.”
The designer believes their collaborative success is down to an eerily similar outlook on life and the fact they “have a ton of fun working together”. They take inspiration from street art – “Jean-Michel Basquiat comes up a lot and Richard Hambleton too.” Some of these influences will be on show in April at Sotheby’s in the Contemporary Curated Sale, which they are currently working on together. “I like Surrealism, Abstract and Pop,” says Williams, recalling that his first purchase was a series of prints by Andy Warhol, while Godrich tends to favour naïve and outsider art.
Surprisingly for artists with a love of mischief, the duo say they worry a great deal. “I’m clumsy as fuck,” says the singer. “Ed spends a lot of his time fixing my mistakes, and I spend a lot of time assuring him that the mistakes look amazing and it was meant to happen.”
“There’s a lot of experimentation,” agrees Godrich. “Sometimes the failures become our favourite things.”
Naturally music plays a big part in their creativity. They listen to a lot of electronic music while painting – “very loud,” says Godrich. “A helicopter landed next to our studio once and we didn’t hear it.”
“But mainly we are just thinking of who we were in 1990,” says Williams. “We’re trying to capture that energy and that hope.
Contemporary Curated will take place online from 22–28 April, with works on view at Sotheby’s London from the 20th. The selling exhibition will take place at Sotheby’s London from 13–25 May
Cover image: Robbie Williams and Ed Godrich working on paintings together. One of the works will be offered at auction in April and more will be available via a selling exhibition in May