The Air is on Fire

David Lynch — This man was shot 0.9502 seconds ago.

David Lynch: This man was shot 0.9502 seconds ago.

The Air is on Fire was the name of an exhibition dedicated to David Lynch, I attended a couple of weeks ago at the Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain in Paris.

ImageDavid Lynch is essentially known as a filmmaker (Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks etc.) with unorthodox narrative and visual style. He is also a painter, a photographer, a video artist. The exhibition brought together the various forms of expression he has employed since 1960, installed in an environment he designed, complemented by a series of concerts and projections he created.

David Lynch's universe is unique, dark, often violent, usually with a disconcerting touch of humour though. His static work develops the line of thought outlined in his movies — or maybe it is the opposite. It calls to mind fantasies of his youth, torments of his adult life.

ImageThat said, I found the show as disturbing as Lynch's movies. It made me feel ill at ease on several occasions. Yet I was feeling all the time I was watching at a huge artistic event.

The first part of the exhibition displayed Lynch's paintings, installed by himself. Steel gantries with curtains (that seem directly borrowed from Mulholland Drive or Twin Peaks) supported unframed canvas on which Lynch had glued various things (dolls' heads, clothes, glass eyes, knifes...) that were mixed into the paint afterwards. The paintings often showed scenes of rape and murder that associated violence and irony, the loneliness of people portrayed there reminding me of Francis Bacon's suffering figures sometimes.

ImageSeveral dozens of small pictorial pieces were presented in another room, without a title or a date. These were rough sketches and notes hastily put down on restaurant headed notepapers, paper handkerchiefs, matchboxes, visit cards, etc. These pieces are not decipherable in an objective way, yet they give away Lynch's obsessions and inside thoughts, as a journey deep into the inconscient of the artist.

Lynch's first short films were shown on the lower floor of the building, in a small projection room. Some of them dated back the 1970's, in which you could see the temptation of gore, as well as attempts at blurring significance of events and disclosing only one distorted side of the reality.

ImageOne hundred photographs or so were displayed, that looked like illustrations of his movies: femmes fatales, banal places with stifling atmosphere, and loneliness always. I loved several of them, probably I will write a specific blog about them some day.

Image At the end of the exhibition, a series called Distorted Nudes was displayed: these are digital images Lynch made using old erotic photographs as initial material, that have obvious analogy with the work of the Surrealists. Here also, you could see Lynch's belief that reality is not univocal, that any "normality" probably hides a monstrous reality.

The Air is on Fire is due to end tomorrow. Then, unless you planned to come to Paris this week-end, I strongly suggest you explore its website [click here], that contains several videos, including a tour of the show with David Lynch himself.

1 comment(s):

    Loved Lynch and all his films. Nice blog.


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