Beezy Bailey’s Balm for a Mad World Boughton House, Northamptonshire

“Everyone should have a Beezy Bailey.” David Bowie

High praise from the late great musician and artistic collaborator of South African artist Beezy Bailey. After meeting in South Africa in the mid-1990s, David Bowie made at least 50 paintings with Beezy while he was recording his album. Out In New York. If owning a painting or sculpture by Mr. Bailey isn’t a possibility, seeing his colorful and energetic work certainly is in two exhibitions organized by the Everard Read Gallery.

More than 30 pieces are on display at Everard Read’s London gallery in Chelsea and in a site-specific exhibition at Boughton House, a glorious historic home in Northamptonshire. The exhibition offers a rare opportunity for public visits. It is now possible to view the art, along with tours of the house and explore the gardens at Boughton, but it is not regularly accessible like other stately homes.

Boughton House, the historic seat of the Buccleuch family, is one of Britain’s finest houses and forms part of an 11,000-acre estate in Northamptonshire. Boughton is one of the few surviving calendar houses in the UK and has 7 courtyards, 12 entrances, 52 fireplaces and 365 windows. Beezy Bailey has created a wealth of new work, inspired by the history, architecture, collections and gardens of Boughton House. The treasures inside the house are impressive, including an outstanding art collection, with works by El Greco, Van Dyck and Gainsborough, French furniture by master cabinetmaker André-Charles Boulle, as well as delicate Sèvres porcelain, Mortlake tapestries and rugs. 16th century from the Middle East. Portraits of famous kings and queens, all related to the Buccleuch family, cover the walls. Anyone who gets a chance to tour the house will also see the remarkable full-size Georgian chinoiserie tea pavilion, Europe’s oldest pool table, and the beautifully preserved Baroque state rooms (built to impress the 17th-century king and queen). William and Mary).

Beezy Bailey explored all of these wonderful family heirlooms on recent stays as a guest of the current Duke Richard, the 10th Duke of Buccleuch. The Duke wishes to ensure that Boughton House continues to be the setting for lively arts projects that include art and music. Portraits of Jane Seymour and a young Queen Elizabeth appear in Beezy’s surrealist paintings, as do the flowers depicted on the canvases of the Buccleuch family portraits, the estate’s rolling grounds, as well as the eclectic architecture and objects of the house The flying forms, animals, and dancing kings and queens that have long been a signature of Beezy’s work are in these new works responding directly to Boughton’s interior and collection.

Like most artists, Beezy Bailey was inspired by other artists who came before him, including Andy Warhol, whom he met at the Warhol factory (along with Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat) in the 1980s. American Artists cemented Beezy’s determination to be an artist, and because he wanted proper training, he went to a traditional art school in London, the prestigious Byam Shaw School of Art, where he learned to draw.

Beezy Bailey is an artist who has always thrived when collaborating with other creatives. He credits South African artist Nelson Makuba with teaching him woodcarving and outdoors at Boughton are Beezy’s marvelous painted carved wood sculptures of an African king and queen. And in addition to making paintings with David Bowie (with whom he remained in contact until Bowie’s death in 2016), he has worked with Bowie’s friend and fellow musician Brian Eno and Dave Matthews. In fact, Beezy’s art is deeply connected to music and his artwork explores the “connection between sound and vision”. He reminds us that the painter Wassily Kandinsky viewed music as the highest form of abstract art and believed that his paintings could communicate certain sounds. “Colour is the key. The eye is the hammer. The soul is the piano with its multiple chords,” Kandinsky said.

Brian Eno describes Beezy Bailey’s work very well: “He invents new worlds, tiny and huge, populated by bird-women, snake-men, lizard-children and animated vegetables, full of brilliant new music. He does African jazz in paint, garish like the midday sun, dark as the deepest night. The two artists created music to accompany the paintings they made for their exhibition, ‘The Sound of Creation’ at the Venice Biennale in 2015.

The works at Boughton House and the London gallery are eclectic, both in subject matter and in the materials used, including enamel, oil, and house paint and varnishes. The paintings show figures within imaginary landscapes, but there is a strong link to Beezy’s South African heritage with nearly extinct African animals in the paintings and a common motif being spheres representing fallen angels. These fallen angels can be seen as representatives of the country Beezy hails from, as well as those whose actions have contributed to the problems of our planet as a whole. These fallen angels are transformed into sculptural bronze works reminiscent of Alberto Giacometti, including Yves Klein’s sculpture of the angel upside down on the lawn in bright blue. Beezy Bailey describes his art as “balm for a mad world” and we can all use some of that.

Beezy Bailey ‘Let There be Light’ at Boughton House, Kettering, Northamptonshire NN14 1BJ and at Everard Read Gallery, London until 31 May 2022. The next open day at Boughton, including the in-house exhibition, will be on Saturday May 21 and Sunday May 22. , 13:00-17:00. Outdoors, the bronze sculptures inside the Gardens, Parkland and Landscape can be seen on Mondays and Tuesdays in May, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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