David Buckingham (American, b. 1958) roams abandoned factories, gritty industrial areas, dodgy neighborhoods and the low deserts of California transforming forgotten relics into large-scale pop-culture inspired wall sculptures. These battered relics – Old 55-gallon barrels, wheelbarrows, tool boxes, road signs, tractor parts, car doors, gas cans, etc. – are carted to a dusty studio in downtown Los Angeles where they are muscled into works of art with a bewildering array of power tools and sheer force of will. All colors are original as found; David Buckingham is no painter.
Inspired by his love of language and its uncanny influence on cultural identity; with 20 years spent in advertising, it comes naturally. He is self-taught; admitting his journey becoming a sculptor is similar to a “mechanic working on a car while running alongside it at 60 mph”. There is a real authenticity to his work that can’t be replicated; an honest reflection of himself and the world around him.
Presenting subject matter that embodies a certain comical darkness, his sculptures combine iconic text and symbols that never fail to provoke communication. Language is the key to understanding where Buckingham is coming from. Steeped in pop culture references, Buckinghams shows how words can be misconstrued, twisted and shaped into something else, giving them an entirely different meaning quite literally. The steel he works with is an unyielding material that takes artistry to manipulate. Buckingham provides a visual image to the correlation of misconstrued language and its relation to pop culture both past and present.
His works are authentic – he never changes the color of the metal as you clearly can not fake the patina and therefore it remains in context. His Gun series is historically correct replicas of guns steeped in American pop culture. From the Phil Spector .38 colt cobra to the .22 rifle used in Chris Burden’s performance art piece, They are iconic symbols that greatly influenced cultural identity. It is challenging subject matter where he is highlighting that all opinions are valid when it comes to his sculptures.
Each of the sculpture series from the Guns to the movie lines and song lyrics is seen as self-excavation and self-expressing of Buckingham. Each series is a totality of his essence as a human. There are three things that he allows in his Downtown Los Angeles, California studio- “Punk Rock, Pot, and Welding. Buckingham’s unconventional art education includes a stint at New York’s infamous Rivington School, which created guerilla sculpture gardens in the city, and where Buckingham took welding lessons from artist Ray “Cowboy” Kelly. He has exhibited his work extensively in the U.S. and abroad, including at California’s Riverside Art Museum and the Lancaster Museum of Art and History. His sculptures have been featured in an international advertising campaign for Wrangler Jeans, installed as public artwork on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, and purchased by private collectors around the world.