David in Action getting
found metal in the L.A. desert.
Creativity has many muses. For self-taught
sculptor David Buckingham, a New Orleans native currently working
in Los Angeles,
inspiration comes from a vast landscape that is both figurative and
literal. His current endeavor, shaped in many ways by his
Crescent City roots and his ample life experiences, entails foraging
expeditions for his raw materials into the uncompromising
desert east of Los Angeles as well as into forgotten industrial sites
in the urban center. From the detritus of our military-industrial
complex, Buckingham creates fascinating works of art that reflect
the conflicts, joy, humor and pathos of modern life.
The process behind his large-scale vintage metal sculptures is deceptively
simple. Hidden within the artwork are the hours of
hit-or-miss searching for the right raw materials, which he gleans
from the junked steel wastelands of the city and the litter of
the empty desert. Also outside the view of his many collectors is
the bewildering array of power tools and equipment that he
uses to craft his vision.
The concept behind his work reflects a life of ups and downs and a
range of experiences that seems to have lead directly to
this moment. 20 years writing advertising copy for television created
the need for another, more visceral creative outlet. A
chance experience with Ray Kelly, one of the founders of the Rivington
School in New York City, led to his first rudimentary
welding lesson. A sojourn to Australia that stretched to five years
afforded him the opportunity to hone his metal-working
David preparing the
Buckingham attributes his fascination with all things derelict to
his youth in New Orleans- the most elegantly decaying city in
the world. He says, "I'm not interested in shiny, new material.
I love the idea that these battered, forgotten relics are rescued
and converted into art; that something that was destined for the landfill
ends up in a marble hall in the Hamptons."
A lifelong articulate observer of the world around him, Buckingham's
art reflects the life he has lived. Having taken many
paths to reach this point, he takes no shortcuts with his work. Referencing
his often sardonic sense of humor he says, "All of
the colors I use are original as found; David Buckingham is no painter.
The past five years spent living and working in Los Angeles clearly
informs his current projects. Immigrant subcultures and the
American fascination with guns and automobiles are just a few of the
themes that run through his work. His use of icons of
Americana always manages to provoke a reaction, which has always been
a goal regardless of the medium.
Always self-aware, the artist says in words that are obviously conscious
of the profound confluence of his life and his art, "What
I look for is old, battered, colorful metal things that have had a
previous life and have the scars to prove it. I want to make art
from things that have a story to tell."