Scream is proud to present LA-based artist David Buckingham’s inaugural solo exhibition in the UK. David Buckingham uses found metal as his artistic medium. The making of his sculptures and wall reliefs are a profound journey of discovery and adventure. Sheet metal is scavenged from abandoned cars and trucks and other machinery that Buckingham finds in the Californian desert. This method of appropriation and regeneration is reminiscent of the work of Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), one of the forerunners of the Pop art movement, where found objects and unusual mediums were incorporated into works with innovation and skill. In the same vein Buckingham hand-welds all the sourced metal and with a deft eye combines the colourful shards of metal into graphic signs and symbols that challenge, amuse and provoke the viewer.
Buckingham’s previous career as a professional writer infiltrates his work with the use of text and language as a powerful mode of communication. Buckingham wants the viewer to react and interact with his work. Imbued with irony, humour and provocation the works in this exhibition offer a dialogue and insight into the artist’s influences and inspirations. The artist comments, “I love language in all its forms: chance remarks I heard decades ago reverberate in my head like I heard them yesterday. Classic American TV shows, slang, snippets of film dialogue. A refrain from an obscure song. A smart-ass comment. Any of that can make its way out of my head and into my work.” Excerpts from movies, song lyrics such as Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the Wild Side’, and comic book sound effects burst from the gallery walls and act as sound bites from contemporary and pop culture. Looking closer at these film and song quotes such as ‘Me So Horny Me Love You Long Time’ [Full Metal Jacket] and ‘Hey, Where The White Women At?’ [Blazing Saddles] the artist has deliberately appropriated quotes and lyrics that have an implied prejudice or discrimination that is initally disguised from the viewer as the humorous recognition of the movie line or song lyric prevails. But the actual statements that stand rusted and imposing from the walls reveal Buckingham’s empathy with the “outsiders” or the persecuted minorities of society and hold a mirror up to these universal assumptions and preconceptions that we can all be guilty of. The global reach of these ideas that infiltrate us all through the media, film, music and advertising is powerfully conveyed. Buckingham also explores the potency of colour seen in his ‘Colour Study’ series and plays with the language of signs and symbols that has a global reach. The artist is also interested in the role of the gun in American culture and produces large-scale wall reliefs of guns using the manipulated metal. The guns are based on actual weapons used by notorious criminals and assassins such as ‘Phil Spector’, or guns used in film and television such as ‘Butch Cassidy’ or he references political and divisive figures. Buckingham raises a challenging debate on the use and ownership of arms and presents the gun as a seductive yet menacing symbol.
The title of the exhibition refers to the artist’s previous substance abuse but also alludes to his new addiction, or ‘magnificent obsession’ as he describes it – making artworks. The artist comments, “My work, in general, is about boundaries: finding where the line is, and then gently crossing it. Most of my work is very personal”. Buckingham’s approach is uncompromising and can collectively be interpreted as a stream of consciousness. His work “absorbs, muses upon, mirrors, and upends the public language of his country, chewing on the word-image of Pop art and the imaged words of the Internet and spitting them out as profane illuminations, banners of defiance and provocation, calls to arms and calls to a peaceable future.” (Peter Frank). Buckingham’s practice acts as a monument to the language, refrains and symbols of our time, worn and weathered with the physical signs of wear and tear. The transformation of the discarded junk into hand-crafted sculptures and works of art is perhaps symbolic of the artist’s ascent from addict to artist. But these works also become relics of contemporary culture and linguistics that ensure our epoch will endure and remain.