David Bowie

Sound, Vision and Self

On the eve of the major David Bowie retrospective, David Bowie is, opening in Melbourne, VAULT offers an appraisal of a career that transcends notions of creative thought and identity.

By Inga Walton JUL 2015

He is an enigmatic and unpredictable cultural force; a genre-flouting phenomenon of his own audacious design; a ubiquitous figure borne of boundless creativity; an artist with an innate ability to not only align himself with the zeitgeist, but to drive it.

How the unprepossessing David Robert Jones from Brixton became one of the most artistically ambitious and influential figures of his generation has long been the subject of conjecture, to a point bordering on obsession. For much of his career, just who he is has been partially overshadowed by intense debate as to what he is. This is the paradox of an artist who speaks to us so directly of the human condition. He is an endlessly capricious rock god whose deviations inspire and embolden us – a transgressor of social mores who exhorts us to be true to our own individuality, and yet remains so tantalisingly aloof.

The mercurial creation, known to a worldwide audience as David Bowie, remains frustratingly elusive. For all his guises – the disaffected Major Tom, the flamboyant Ziggy Stardust, the austerely suave Thin White Duke, or the self-parody of effete Screaming Lord Byron – Bowie has made a somewhat perverse point of refusing to disclose his agenda, much less satisfy our desire for explanation or denouement. Perhaps that is the point: whether you consider him a visionary, an epic tease or simply one of the few men to look completely riveting in that much makeup, he remains an enthralling, if inscrutable, entity. Throughout his ... Subscribe to read this article in full

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