David Bailey’s (or Bailey as he is known to everyone) first ever sculpture exhibition is currently showing at the Pangolin gallery, Kings Cross. Renowned for his iconic photography, here Bailey strips away conventional beauty, and instead focuses on that which lies beneath the beautiful profile: the skull.
As Bailey insists ‘I’m not saying I’m a sculptor, I just make images. I don’t take photographs, I make them. And now I’m making something else.’ This something else will surprise many. There are plenty of skulls including a miniature silver skull (a tiny grinning memento mori) perched on a chair that looks like it has come straight from the front row of London Fashion Week, aptly named Comfortable Skull. Or how about Shoe Tongue, a bronze skull with a boot-leather tongue escaping from its mouth. The latter was inspired by an old shoe which he found on a burnt-out fire in Dartmoor where he also has a second home. As Bailey adds ‘Everything in my life is found, whether it’s something that I find in the person I’m taking a picture of, or if I’m taking a picture of some farmer’s old boot that I find on a bonfire.’
When we asked Bailey which was his favourite piece he immediately pointed to the Dead Andy bronze. A striking and humorous depiction of Bailey’s old friend Andy Warhol (he has even nailed the hair). David Bailey’s Andy Warhol documentary was released in 1973 and was banned for being ‘offensive’, the ban was later overturned. It is classed by many as the definitive Warhol documentary.
This exhibition is not just about sculpture, there are new photographs, too. These also revolve around the skull theme: a giraffe, dolphin and gorilla for example. As Bailey puts it ‘The skull is nature’s sculpture.’
Pangolin Gallery is one of London’s few galleries purely dedicated to exhibiting sculpture. It’s close affiliation with Europe’s largest foundry, Pangolin Editions in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside, means that Pangolin London is able to showcase the most advanced sculpture-making.
Bailey met Rungwe Kingson and Claude Koenig – Directors of Pangolin Editions and Pangolin London – at Damien Hirst’s House in Mexico and it was here that they began discussions regarding a collaboration.
Bailey’s love of Picasso, African and Oceanic culture is evident throughout. He adores Picasso and there are similarities between the two; both sharing a relentless creativity, a determination to try something new, and of course an appreciation of beautiful women.
David Bailey: Sculpture & Photographs runs until 16 October.
For further information please visit: www.pangolinlondon.com
Recommended reading: David Bailey: Archive One 1957 – 1969. To purchase visit our bookstore.