David Lynch (*1946 in Montana) is a cult director known for his bizarre, often disturbing films, such as Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, and Mulholland Drive. Of all film directors, his work may be the most abstract. Lynch experiments with narrative structures, abandoning the classic notions of space and time in his films. Yet, the brilliant filmmaker has another passion besides the cinema, which, according to him, has "influenced [me] more than the cinema"—and that is art. He began his career as a painter.
The abysses behind the idyllic façades of life
“Painting is the best act of loneliness” (David Lynch)
In 1964 Lynch began studying art. “Painting is the most beautiful act of isolation,” says David Lynch, whose large body of paintings, drawings, and photographs has been explored in recent years. “When you’re painting, there’s just you and the canvas. You can make a thousand discoveries.” And Lynch has indeed produced thousands of drawings, paintings, sculptures, and photographs over the last few decades. Some of his oil paintings contain the same kind of disturbing intensity and brutality unique to his films. Do You Really Want to Know What I Think, depicting a half-naked woman being threatened by a man with a knife, is just one of these works.
Or there are the Bob - 33 paintings from the Bob series (1988-2007). Lynch not only identifies with the pictures, but with Bob himself—it is not just the “sound of the name” that he likes. Above an abstract work is written Bob sees himself walking, while Bob loves Sally can be read above a more figurative depiction of a sex act. Love, sexuality, and violence are central themes for Lynch. In his films he has created many indescribably powerful loves scenes. Perhaps what Lynch once said in an interview about Blue Velvet can also be applied to his non-film works: “It’s about the mysteries of love and darkness . . . a film about things that are hidden.” Most of the surfaces of his paintings are dark-hued, and they also incorporate organic materials and objects. Like his films, the paintings have cryptic textures whose content can only be guessed at.
There is also an imposing wealth of photographs. Frequently they are of old industrial ruins—which seem to have a magical attraction for Lynch—and of female nudes, such as the photo series Distorted Nude, in which Lynch artfully distorts erotic photographs that date from the nineteenth century to the 1940s. He describes this as an attempt “to get a feeling for the pictures.” He is always interested in the organic—in weave, structure, form, and light. Lynch often works with very little daylight. Distorted movements give many of the scenes a nightmarish appearance. His images are like his films: gloomy, disturbing, and difficult to decipher. For Lynch, “Photography, painting, film [are] nothing more than ways to translate ideas. For a photo, a single association is often enough, while for films, I spend years collecting ideas.” All of his works circle around his characteristic themes, especially that of the abysses behind the idyllic façade of life in the suburbs, and the issue of varying truths.
August 2, 2010 Caroline Schilling