The Whimsical World of Beezy Bailey

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05/07/2024     General News, Timed-Online Auctions, Insights

Lot 76 | African Train Bird, 1995. Estimate: R 7 000 – 9 000


A giant, lime, stiletto-shoe-car driven by a squat figure while a king, perched on his ‘King’ monoplane flies above, a heavy crown perched upon his head as his hair blows in the wind. A colossal, winged fairy stretched over a robed and crowned figure, smoking a cigarette while he pan-fries another smoking and crowned head. Kings flying above ladies in oversized sunglasses having tea on the castle lawns and an enormous, clawed human-bird – or plane – swoops down to capture a toy-like blue steam train.


This is the whimsical and fantastical world of artist Beezy Bailey, whose works – rich in magical and creative imagination – weave lively stories, bursting with delight.


LEFT: Lot 73: Fairy, and a king cooking | Estimate: R 4 000 - 6 000

RIGHT: Lot 72: Two figures and teacups | Estimate: R 4 000 - 6 000


Working in a variety of media, including printmaking, painting and sculpture, Bailey has been a practising artist for over 30 years and has held over 20 one-man shows in London, Johannesburg and Cape Town. The artist’s fantastical works are in important collections including the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town; the David Bowie Art Collection, London; the Getty Family Collection in the USA and the Standard Bank Collection in Johannesburg. He also has a notable history of close collaborations with other artists, such as David Bowie, Dave Matthews and musician and visual artist Brian Eno who succinctly describes Bailey as making “his art out of joy and laughter”, sharing that Bailey “is somebody to whom art comes easily and who doesn’t feel guilty about it, who revels in his gift and has confidence in it – like a chef gleefully throwing ingredients in by the handful without ever measuring them. He cooks up new worlds, tiny and huge”.

Beezy Bailey indeed offers the viewer a surprise at every turn. He is often asked what the different aspects of his art mean. But he maintains that it is not for him to explain, interpreting the contents of his work is rather a gift to the viewer who is free to interpret the playful images in their own way. He does, however, offer some insight noting that he creates art “as a balm for a mad world” and many of his works emanate from his abiding concern with the Anthropocene. Derived from the Greek words anthropo, for “man,” and cene for “new,”  and coined and made popular by biologist Eugene Stormer and chemist Paul Crutzen, the Anthropocene Epoch is an unofficial unit of geologic time. The term is used to describe the most recent period in Earth’s history when human activity started to have a significant impact on the planet’s climate and ecosystems.

Within the context of a mad world, brutalized by environmental negligence and extremes of wealth and poverty, Bailey’s art offers a moment of pause to enjoy the playful world of fairy tales, fantasy and endless imaginative narratives.


LEFT: Lot 74: King flying on airplane | Estimate: R 4 000 - 6 000

RIGHT: Lot 75: Grannies Tea Party | Estimate: R 4 000 - 6 000


View works by Beezy Bailey featured in Works on Paper here.





Works on Paper

4 - 16 July 2024


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