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Artist Beezy Bailey has made art accessible in Icon Iconoclast, using photographs of Nelson Mandela and influences from American pop artist Andy Warhol.

PHOTOGRAPHS of Nelson Mandela, the global icon of peace, have beenplayfully modified using silk-screening and splashes of colour to create a three-dimensional effect for an upcoming exhibition of works by Beezy Bailey.



Beezy Bailey, Prophets Old and New, OilBeezy Bailey, Prophets Old and New, Oil, Silkscreen and Enamel on Canvas

These revitalized images will be exhibited at the Everard Read Gallery in Rosebank, northern Joburg, as part of an exhibition entitled Icon Iconoclast.The exhibition will be opened by former minister of intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils. It will run from 5 May to 16 June.

It pays tribute to Mandela as well as the late Andy Warhol, the American artist who spearheaded the pop art movement.

Kasrils says: “Bailey captures the iconic figure … with wit and the irreverence of a genuine iconoclast. This collection is a vivid, touching and illuminating journey around Madiba that teases, tantalises and transfixes the viewer in an effervescent celebration.”

Bailey accredits his inspiration for the exhibition to Warhol’s silkscreen images of celebrities; his paintings of famous faces such as Marilyn Monroe,Mick Jaggerand Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, are well known.

Bailey used photographs by Bob Gosani from before Mandela’s imprisonment as well as photographs by Benny Gool from after his release to create the same effect.

“The symbolic tapestry of South Africa’s haunting landscape, secretive mists, visceral imagery of birds and broken shacks weave and float around the elusive, multidimensional charisma of a man who has always reminded us that love is central to liberation and the masses, not great men, are the true creators of history,” notes Kasrils.

Photographs in silkscreen format were printed onto canvas, which were then painted on by Bailey.

“The exhibition celebrates not only the icon Nelson Mandela, but also the liberation of South Africa through the use of images portraying other heroes such as Joe Slovo,” says Kasrils. “The paintings have a transcendental quality, rich in layers and colours, yet conveying the all-important message that brings out the dream of a free South Africa.”



Beezy Bailey, Ghost BoxerBeezy Bailey, Ghost Boxer, Oil Silkscreen and Enamel on Canvas

The Everard Read Gallery,is one of the country’s oldest and most famous commercial art galleries. It was established in Joburg in 1912 and has since become synonymous with housing the finest art emanating from southern Africa. Many painters and sculptors, traditional artists and emerging ones, have exhibited at the gallery.

Bailey himself says that the general lack of means associated with being an artist might have led him to consider taking up a more profitable career, had he not met Warhol in New York.

Warhol began exhibiting his work in the 1950s, but it was in the 1960s, with his paintings of iconic American products such as Campbell’s Soup and Coca-Cola, as well as its celebrities that he became truly famous, etched in the popular conscious.

He showed Bailey that he could be an artist, make money and thrive. Bailey says: “Coming from apartheid South Africa when we were so isolated, I needed that reassurance.”

And to this day, he admires Warhol’s anti-elitist approach to art.“He [Warhol] wanted to reach the masses … The work that he’s done is accessible to people who don’t have fine art degrees, whereas so much fine art is reliant on intellectual jargon.”

The Everard Read Gallery is at 6 Jellicoe Avenue in Rosebank. It is open from Mondays to Fridays, from 9am to 6pm, and on Saturdays, from 9am to 1pm. For more information, call 011 788 4805, fax on 011 788 5914,, or visit the

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