Living proof that not everything LA-based is merely relentless fodder for the Daily Mail sidebar of shame, the American artist David Buckingham is showing at Scream gallery from 22nd February – 29 March. An initiate of the now-infamous Rivington School in New York in the 80s, he was taught how to sculpt by Cowboy Ray Kelly, Rothko’s painting assistant. He went through the twin hells of working in advertising and a heroin addiction before he turned to sculpture full time.
Buckingham uses found metal as his artistic medium, using sheet metal scavenged from abandoned cars and trucks and other machinery that he finds in the Californian desert. Once the pieces make their way back to his studio in downtown Los Angeles, Buckingham ‘mines his own psyche’ to create works steeped in his memory, experiences, and things that have stuck in his creative mind.
Ask him to reveal where he finds his treasure, he’s happy to oblige as long as you’re ok with the fact you won’t live to tell the tale. He is however open about the human wasteland he encounters when he’s out ‘mining’…
“I like to say that the people you meet in the desert often make the folks in the film Deliverance look like Rhodes Scholars. And the deeper into the desert one travels, the weirder it gets. Many of these people live ‘off the grid’, miles from paved roads and without city services like electricity and running water. There’s usually a cheap trailer sunk into the sand, a slap-dash fence made from old tires, trash and derelict vehicles everywhere, a few goats running around and sometimes a deformed child crawling about in the dirt, playing with a rattlesnake. I’ve had the dubious pleasure of making the acquaintance of toothless methamphetamine freaks, paranoid survivalists, doomsday weirdoes, wife beaters, devil worshipers, and heavily-armed fuck-the-world-leave-me-alone types. We’re talking about guys with names like ‘Rattlesnake Randy’, ‘The Swede’, ‘Gonzo’ and ‘Mr. Black’ – even though the dude wasn’t black and his name wasn’t Black. Some are glad to see me, some aren’t. But they’re all glad to see my cash when I persuade them to sell that fantastic old school bus out there in the weeds.”
To Buckingham, sculpture is a full-time occupation; it is a mental metal obsession. He is attracted to the battered and beaten, the cast-off, the discarded, things that have had a previous life and have the scars to prove it. As he puts it, “Maybe it’s because I’ve been through the wringer that I’m compelled to use materials that have also been a little beaten-up along the way.”
27-28 Eastcastle Street
London W1W 8DH
Words by Anna Bang
Tagsanna bang, David Buckingham, Rothko, Scream Gallery,