‘Wot no Bike’ is a series of new works by this seminal musician, artist – and biker. As much self-portraits as still-lifes, the paintings depict his own personal effects: the biker paraphernalia of jackets, boots, helmets and gloves alongside packets of cigarettes and books. In depicting these everyday objects, Simonon creates a visual diary in paint.
These works are inspired by the realist painters of the 20th Century, in particular the work of the American Ashcan School in 1900s New York, and the Kitchen Sink School of 1950s British painters. Through their depiction of the banal and ordinary they gave expression to the experiences of the working class under conditions of depravation. In Simonon’s Britain the fractious domestic and economic situation of post-war austerity gave rise to the emergence of later subcultures. While Simonon is cautious about drawing parallels between his music and his painting, it is clear that subcultures from the ‘50s onwards have been, and remain, essential to both these aspects of his life and work.
Autobiographical in the modernist and realist painting tradition, ‘Wot No Bike’ is Simonon’s very personal exploration of British subculture and counterculture in the post-war decades.