David Lynch is internationally renowned as a filmmaker, a lauded director of an eccentric cinematic oeuvre. His surreal and distinct cinematic style is evident in works such as Eraserhead (1977), Blue Velvet (1986), Mulholland Drive (2001) and the television series Twin Peaks (1990-91). However, Lynch originally began his creative life as a visual artist and has maintained a devoted studio practice, developing an extensive body of painting, prints, photography, and drawing.
Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) presents ‘David Lynch: Between Two Worlds’, a 50-year retrospective that considers the auteur’s artistic practice. Developed closely with the artist, the exhibition features more than 200 works and is organised around three themes, which also permeate to Lynch’s cinematography: ‘Man and machine’, ‘The extra-ordinary’, and ‘Psychic Aches’.
The exhibition’s curator, José Da Silva, Senior Curator, Australian Cinémathéque, QAGOMA, said that these themes connect the artist’s practice across art, cinema and music, “moving between the porous divide of the body and the world it inhabits, the exhibition explores the subjects of industry and organic phenomena; representations of inner conflict; and the possibility of finding a deeper reality in our experience of the everyday.”
‘David Lynch: Between Two Worlds’ includes rarely seen paintings and drawings from the 1960s as well as lithographs, a presentation of Lynch’s photographs of factories and nudes, recent large-scale paintings, and a complete retrospective of his film, video and television work. This rare opportunity to view such a vast collection of work spanning five decades will allow the public, art lovers and cinephiles alike, to delve deep into the mind of David Lynch and submerge themselves in the idiosyncratic work he creates.
Lynch’s painting style has a strong aesthetic and narrative resemblance to his films, engulfing the audience in the undertows of the dark eddies of violence, terror, black humour and mystery. His artworks are created in a faux-naïve style, some with the use of fractured pieces of language often conveyed through the addition of text, distorted forms, and disturbances in the paint fields that surround or envelop his figures. While some works relate to his film projects there are others that are independent but still reveal a parallel trajectory.
This Man Was Shot 0.9502 Seconds Ago (2004) is a vibrant, paradoxical piece about movement and time showing a man whose entrails are splattering outwards and whose spirit is leaving his body (as indicated by a written caption). The time of the shooting at 0.9502 seconds almost suggests that the killer is still present and might very well be the viewer themselves. Like many of his films, an investigation and the enigmatic search for ‘Laura Palmer’s’ killer begins.
Lynch’s films create a new reality focusing on individual suffering and the embracement of existentialism. The artworks in this exhibition will help us understand the origins of these surreal, tormented Lynchian worlds and in turn cement their own distinct achievement in his artistic career.
Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)
14 March to 7 June, 2015
Airplane and Tower, 2013, oil and mixed media on canvas, 182.8 x 304.8cm
This Man Was Shot 0.9502 Seconds Ago, 2004, mixed media on Giclée print, 182.8 x 304.8cm
Images courtesy David Lynch and Kayne Griffin Corcoran