Beezy Bailey was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He received a degree in Fine Art from Byam Shaw School of Art in London in 1986. Born of the frustration of ‘increasingly prevalent affirmative action’ in the art world, Bailey submitted two artworks for a triennial exhibition in 1991. One was with the traditional Beezy Bailey signature (rejected), and the other signed Joyce Ntobe, a female alter-ego Bailey had created for himself. The latter now enjoys an honoured place in the Iziko South African National Gallery as part of its permanent collection. When the curator of the Gallery wanted to write a paper about three black women artists, Joyce Ntobe being one, Bailey let the cat out the bag, which caused a huge media scandal. Other scandals to have attracted international media coverage have been Bailey’s conversion of the statue of Boer commander Louis Botha outside parliament in Cape Town into a Khoza initiate, and more recently his rendition of Christ removed from the cross as a dancing Jesus, celebrating His resurrection.
Bailey has been the driving force behind several art auctions, such as the Art for Africa auctions that benefitted Ikamva Labantu among others. Raising over R2.5 million with auctions held in Cape Town, Johannesburg and London, a fourth Art for Africa auction is to take place in New York later this year. The New York auction will bring together, for the first time, works by leading contemporary South African and UK artists under the name of Art for Africa.
text: Everard Read