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When David Lynch Makes Visual Art

  • David Lynch - Ricky Finds out He Has Shit for Brains
October 28, 2019
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

In the late 1960s, the American experimental film was marked by the presence of the infamous Jonas Mekas, Bruce Conner, Stan Brakhage, and the structuralist tendencies on one hand, and the fictitious, daring and queer explorations in the films of Andy Warhol, Jack Smith, and Kenneth Anger. During the same period, yet another young filmmaker emerged – the master of the strange, David Lynch.

By combing the avant-garde legacy of Surrealism and the experimental patterns of the post-war generation of the mentioned experimental filmmakers, with his own eerie Imaginarium Lynch constructed a distinct aesthetic full of suspense, freight, passion, and gore. Alongside the successful career of a filmmaker, he also acts as a visual artist known for equally strange and in some cases obscene works.

The upcoming exhibition at Sperone Westwater will present Lynch’s recent works (paintings, works on paper, watercolors, lamp sculptures, and furniture), the first at this gallery, and will once again underline his domains within the visual arts.

David Lynch - Billy Sings the Tune for the Death Row Shuffle
David Lynch – Billy Sings the Tune for the Death Row Shuffle, 2018. Mixed media painting, 66 x 66 inches (167,6 x 167,6 cm), 76 7/8 x 76 15/16 x 5 13/16 inches (195,2 x 195,4 x 14,7 cm) framed

The Thin Line Between Art and Film

For almost five decades, David Lynch has been working with various media spanning from painting, drawing, photography, and printmaking, to sculpture, music and film. The specific approach started forming while he was studying at the Boston Museum School and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), resulting in his first and groundbreaking ‘moving painting’ (a multidimensional painting beneath a moving projection) titled Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times) made in 1967.

Lynch’s film career developed from his multimedia visual arts practice, and so he gained critical attention as a creator of cult films such as Eraserhead (1977), The Elephant Man (1980), Blue Velvet (1986), Lost Highway (1997), Mulholland Drive (2001), Inland Empire (2006) and the outstanding TV series Twin Peaks (1990-91).

Left David Lynch - Violet Lamp Right David Lynch - Douglas Fir Top Lamp
Left: David Lynch – Violet Lamp, 2003. Cold-rolled steel, plaster, tint, resin, 62 1/2 x 16 x 12 inches (161,2 x 40,6 x 30,4 cm) / Right: David Lynch – Douglas Fir Top Lamp #1, 2002. Cold-rolled steel, douglas fir, Plexiglas, 62 x 9 x 8 inches (157,4 x 22,8 x 20,3 cm)

The Works

David Lynch’s artworks on display in New York will show the continuation of his practice and his interest in the matter of decay, presented through the relation of the human body and the industrial sites.

Some of the titles suggest the childish undertone, an act of children’s play which ends in a bizarre and unprecedented fashion (such as Billy Sings the Tune for the Death Row Shuffle or Billy (and His Friends) Did Find Sally in the Tree). Lynch devotedly investigates the dark side of the human experience and an array of psychological implications of the same through a mysterious prism.

David Lynch - Billy and His Friends
David Lynch – Billy (and His Friends) Did Find Sally in the Tree, 2018. Mixed media painting, 66 x 66 inches (167,6 x 167,6 cm), 76 13/16 x 76 7/8 x 7 1/4 inches (195,1 x 195,2 x 18,4 cm) framed

David Lynch Art at Sperone Westwater

Finally, the upcoming exhibition should be perceived in the light of Lynch’s apparent urge to constantly revisit his roots by expressing himself through classical artistic media. That was proven with several retrospectives, solo exhibitions, and the fact this artist/filmmaker is represented by the Los Angeles-based Kayne Griffin Corcoran gallery.

David Lynch: Squeaky Flies in the Mud will be on display at Sperone Westwater in New York from 1 November until 21 December 2019.

Featured images: David Lynch – Ricky Finds out He Has Shit for Brains, 2007. Mixed media painting, 31 x 27 inches (78,7 x 68,5 cm), 36 1/4 x 32 1/4 x 3 inches (92 x 81,9 x 7,6 cm) framed. All images courtesy of Sperone Westwater.