As you enter the Everard Read Gallery this month, Beezy Bailey’s striking sculpture of Jesus greets you with more than wide open arms. In contrast to the classic Christ pose – head tilted to the right and right foot crossed over left, Beezy’s Jesus appears to be admiring his own rather nifty footwork. As your eye travels down his body, you notice that he is, in fact, wearing stilettos.
Beezy denies that his work is blasphemous and was surprised when two foundries refused to cast his sculpture.
Beezy, not a practicing Christian, says that far from being derogatory, the work expresses the notion of the resurrection of Christ, which he interprets to symbolise the discovery of Christ within ourselves. The sculpture is the outcome of a question he started exploring with David Bowie when they met and collaborated more than 10 years ago: what would happen if Christ came down from the cross?
In contrast to the skinny Jesus, Florian Wozniak’s rotund sculptures seem Buddha-like. Inspired by the European tradition of Modigliani and Matisse, Florian’s figures explore the notion of connection – some figures wrestle, others sit together in a close huddle. In The Couple, a pair sits back to back, their body language expressing an ambiguous intimacy.
Florian’s voluptuous nudes celebrate the female form. He says, ‘I have a beautiful wife and see women as creations from God. I want to express the dignity of women, depict them not as objects, and wipe away what’s been clogging my mindabout women.’
There’s a quiet humour in Florian’s work. Not the Beezyesque satire, but a palpable irony. For example, The Critic,with his hands gesticulating and mouth open as he pontificates, draws a smile from the viewer who recognises the party bore,the know-it-all. Beezy’s Jesus arrests the gaze, whereas Florian’s sculpture invites the viewer to look closer.
Both works are on show at the Everard Read Gallery. 3 Portswood Road, V&A Waterfront,
021 418 4527