David Lynch art show opens in Paris

1st March 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 1, 2007 (AFP) - Filmmaker and master of enigma David Lynch on Thursday unveiled half a century of his little-known work as a painter, draftsman and photographer, in a major new exhibition in Paris.

PARIS, March 1, 2007 (AFP) - Filmmaker and master of enigma David Lynch on Thursday unveiled half a century of his little-known work as a painter, draftsman and photographer, in a major new exhibition in Paris.

From giant mixed-medium canvases to tiny landscapes painted on matchboxes, photographs, sketches and countless doodles, the show -- which opens Saturday at Paris' Cartier Foundation -- reaches back to the US director's teenaged years.

As in most of Lynch's films, from "Eraserhead" in 1977 to last year's "Inland Empire", sex, violence and unconscious desires loom large in his art, displayed against a haunting backdrop of industrial-sounding music which Lynch co-designed for the show.

The 61-year-old artist, who left each piece deliberately without name or date, dodged requests for clues to his dark and puzzling universe at a press conference at the foundation Thursday.

"What you see is what you get," he quipped. "The works are there, they speak for themselves... But so much of it is a wordless thing. The viewer stands in front of an image, and a magic circle starts happening."

Helene Kelmachter, one of the curators of the show called "The Air Is On Fire", described it as "a journey through a labyrinth -- you fall from one world to the next without knowing where it will take you next."

"But in the end it's another jump into David Lynch's slightly strange and worrying world."

Lynch says the idea for the exhibition -- which runs until May 27 -- came from the Cartier Foundation, whose chief curator Herve Chandes travelled to his home in Los Angeles half a dozen times to select works for the show.

The centrepiece is a collection of giant canvases in paint, latex, wood and hair -- many with crudely-sculpted human figures, masks and sex organs incrusted onto their surface.

One of the few figurative works shows a deformed woman, her knickers half-ripped off, pressing a gun to her naked stomach and a telephone receiver to her head, under the words: "Well... I can dream can't I?"

Several describe the wanderings of a figure called "Bob" -- the name of a recurring character in Lynch's cult TV series "Twin Peaks" -- through a series of post-apocalyptic landscapes.

"This is a different Bob," Lynch quipped. "I like the name Bob. Something about the sound of the name, and the shape of this particular Bob got me going.

"Bob is a person who is experiencing different things in the world -- I like Bob very much, and I guess I kind of identify with Bob."

Downstairs, the walls are plastered with hundreds of tiny scribbled notes, doodles, and sketches -- on everything from napkins to matchboxes -- spanning decades of Lynch's life, and on display for the first time.

"I like to save these things because they feel good to me, because they can spark something for the future. You do little marks on paper and things start to happen," Lynch said.

Next door, the artist has turned one of his sketches into a full-scale film set, complete with kitsch zebra-striped sofas, and red-and-black polka dot carpeting.

Meanwhile, in a screening room modelled on a scene from "Eraserhead", there are rolling projections of his first three experimental short films: "Six Men getting Sick" (1967), "The Alphabet" (1968) and "The Grandmother" (1970).

Among his most recent works on display, a 2004 collection of digital photo montages called "Distorted Nudes" uses erotic photographs from 1840 to 1940, clipped and reassembled into mutant, highly-sexualised bodies.

Other, more conventional photos show voluptuous nudes with red-painted lips, or black-and-white graffitied industrial landscapes, criss-crossed by barbed wire and factory pipes.

Elsewhere, small black-and-white watercolours full of jolted imagery, forlorn, windswept houses and scratched half-sentences suggest madness and disconnection.

For Lynch, who studied fine art at college in 1960s before branching into film, his work is something to lose oneself in, not puzzle over.

"People understand the abstractions more than they give themselves credit for," he said. "Some people love falling into the world of abstractions and feel so good being lost for a time... Others find it very frustrating."

But don't be fooled by the stark, haunted images: Lynch insisted he was a "very happy" man, saying 33 years of transcendental meditation had given him access to "the beautiful unbounded ocean of pure consciousness, beautiful, easy, effortless."

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Subject: French news

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