Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponcomment this pageEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInDigg thisShare on Tumblrfark this page

Bob Dylan isn’t just a Nobel prize winning singer-songwriter, he’s also an artist. In the sense that he’s a painter and sculptor. Bill Clinton owns one of his metalworks. A new exhibition, The Beaten Path, of Dylan’s art—sketches, paintings in acrylic and watercolors, ironworks—is currently on show at London’s Halcyon Gallery.

The show has been in production for the last two years with the theme of the American landscape, and they are landscapes that are altogether Dylan. Spread across three floors and numbering a few hundred works, they explore Americana in major cities, in middle America, on the backroads, motels, places off the beaten track that the title references. They’re places that the average person might see when walking down the street, or sitting on the bus staring out the window, or traveling home from work.

Interspersed are his welded iron sculptures and gates made by his Black Buffalo Ironworks studio. Being from Hibbing, Minnesota, Dylan says he’s been welding iron all his life. Like the paintings they feature fragments from his travels, pieces picked up as he passes across the land.

Bob Dylan_The Beaten Path_Halcyon Gallery_Florida Country, 2015–2016. Acrylic on canvas, 81.3 x 121.9 cm. SignedBob Dylan. The Beaten Path. Halcyon Gallery. Florida Country, 2015–2016. Acrylic on canvas, 81.3 x 121.9 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Halcyon Gallery

“For this series of paintings the idea was to create pictures that would not be misinterpreted or misunderstood by me or anybody else,” Dylan writes in an essay he wrote for the exhibition, his most extensive prose writing since Chronicles. “When the Halcyon Gallery brought the idea of me doing American landscapes for an exhibition, all they had to do was say it once. And after a bit of clarification, I took it to heart and ran with it. The common theme of these works having something to do with the American landscape— how you see it while crisscrossing the land and seeing it for what it’s worth. Staying out of the mainstream and traveling the back roads, free born style.”

Bob Dylan_The Beaten Path_Halcyon Gallery_Donut Shop, 2015–2016. Acrylic on canvas, 83.8 x 121.9 cm. SignedDonut Shop, 2015–2016. Acrylic on canvas, 83.8 x 121.9 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Halcyon Gallery

The resulting images are painted with a fondness and matter-of-factness, a naturalism Dylan calls it, while also likening their style to Wassily Kandinsky and Georges Rouault. “My idea was to keep things simple, only deal with what is externally visible.” he writes. “These paintings are up to the moment realism—archaic, most static, but quivering in appearance. They contradict the modern world. However, that’s my doing.”

Classic-Car-Show,-Cleveland,-Ohio,-2015–2016.-Acrylic-on-canvas,-71.1-x-121Classic Car Show, Cleveland, Ohio, 2015–2016. Acrylic on canvas, 71.1 x 121.9 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Halcyon Gallery

That contradiction means we get contemporary scenes but ones that evoke a sort of timeless America that exists beyond the modern one. Because the modern world of corporate buildings, highrises or “cold giant structures” and mass media doesn’t appeal to Dylan, doesn’t hold any meaning for him. So he ignores them, opting instead to see classical features in a hotdog stand or donut shop. “I restricted myself to traditional subject matter viewing nothing as shallow or gaudy,” he says. “Whiplash curves, flying buttresses, pointed steeples, arches and waves.”

Bob Dylan_The Beaten Path_Halcyon Gallery_Flat Top Mt. Diner, Tennessee, 2015–2016. Acrylic on canvas, 76.2 x 121.9 cm. SignedFlat Top Mt. Diner, Tennessee, 2015–2016. Acrylic on canvas, 76.2 x 121.9 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Halcyon Gallery

There are abandoned industrial sites, Texan boneyards, small farms and forgotten towns that Dylan has passed on his so-called Never-Ending Tour, which sees him play around 100 shows a year. “I don’t think anyone has travelled through America as much as Dylan,” the gallery’s marketing manager pondered. “And on his tour bus, he has very much been part of the American landscape himself for a number of years. I suppose this allows us to be taken on a journey with Dylan, what he sees.”

Theater,-Downtown-LA,-2015–2016.-Acrylic-on-canvas,-139.7-x-213Theater, Downtown LA, 2015–2016. Acrylic on canvas, 139.7 x 213.4 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Halcyon Gallery

As for his technique, Dylan says when his hand fails his eye he uses the camera obscura method to help him capture some of the detail. Sometimes using a camera, other times using a convex TV screen found in old junk shops to view the world through. “In a lot of the other cases, all I needed was a straight edge, compass and a T-Square going on a case by case basis without abandoning tradition or adhering to any conventions or aesthetic doctrines,” he notes.

There are scenes from his house in New Orleans. There are POV paintings of him looking up at the Manhattan Bridge in NYC. There are street scenes that Dylan has glimpsed while sitting in his hotel room. There’s an image of a BBQ shack called Woody’s, no doubt a nod to one of Dylan’s musical heroes and the man he magpied the most in his youth, Woody Guthrie. There are Alabama side shows, railroad tracks, old cars.

Manhattan-Bridge,-Downtown-New-York,-2015–2016.-Watercolour-on-paper,-89.2-x-121Manhattan Bridge, Downtown New York, 2015–2016. Watercolour on paper, 89.2 x 121.3 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Halcyon Gallery

“There was a conscious attempt to dismiss consumer culture or popular culture, including mass media, commercial art, celebrities, consumer or product packaging, billboard signs, comic strips, magazine advertising,” Dylan concludes in his essay. “The Beaten Path works represent a different subject matter from the everyday imagery of consumer culture. There is nothing to suggest these paintings were inspired by the writings of Sigmund Freud or that they were based on any mental images that occur in dreams, no fantasy worlds, religious mysticism or ambiguous subject matter. In every picture the viewer doesn’t have to wonder whether it’s an actual object or a delusional one. If the viewer visited where the picture actually existed, he or she would see the same thing. It is what unites us all.”

You can read Dylan’s full essay on the exhibition here.

Abandoned-Motel,-Eureka,-2015–2016.-Watercolour-on-paper,-91.8-x-65Abandoned Motel, Eureka, 2015–2016. Watercolour on paper, 91.8 x 65.4 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Halcyon Gallery

 

Bob Dylan_The Beaten Path_Halcyon Gallery_New York Skyline, seen from Queens, 2015–2016. Acrylic on canvas, 83.8 x 121.9 cm. SignedNew York Skyline, seen from Queens, 2015–2016. Acrylic on canvas, 83.8 x 121.9 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Halcyon Gallery

 

Endless-Highway-1,-2015–2016.-Acrylic-on-canvas,-71.1-x-121Endless Highway 1, 2015–2016. Acrylic on canvas, 182.9 x 320 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Halcyon Gallery

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponcomment this pageEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInDigg thisShare on Tumblrfark this page
Loading...
funny pics

AMC’s The Walking Dead is ripe for making into memes, and The Walking Dead Carl Meme (‘Hey Coral‘) with it’s hilarious take on dad jokes between Carl…

people

Russian model, adventurer and roofer Angela Nikolau doesn’t use typical locations when she does her fashion and selfie photoshoots. As we’ve noted before, she loves to climb…

people

Putting glitter on your face is beyond passé, instead it’s all about the butt glitter these days. Yes, putting tiny sparkly reflective dots on your butt cheeks…

music videos

Musician Kawehi turns a casual stroll down the street into a seriously impressive music making session for her latest video ‘(Not Another Lame) Fight Song’. Walking and…

netflix

Netflix have released the first teaser trailer for their live action Death Note movie. The much-anticipated horror film is directed by Adam Wingard (The Guest, Blair Witch,…

culture

Zodiac monsters are not what you would expect to represent the 12 Horoscope signs, but then you’ve probably never met illustrator Damon Hellandbrand who’s dark mind has…

Loading...
animals

If you were looking to get a pet cat that was on the larger size, then the Maine Coon is the largest domestic cat in the world….

rick and morty

With the wait for Rick and Morty season 3 still ongoing (apart from that trolling trailer) fans of the Adult Swim cartoon about scientist Rick Sanchez who…

humor

Have you tasted the Gordon Ramsay Twitter roast yet? It’s his new dish and guaranteed to leave a bitter and sad taste in your mouth if you…

fan made films

Since its release the Rogue One ending has been crying out for someone to edit it together with the beginning of A New Hope. And so completing…

documentary

It’s unlikely that Mad Honey appears on any of our ‘Top 10 narcotics’ lists, i doubt that even the police have ever had to deal with an…

culture

Drinking on a Sunday is a bit like playing Russian roulette, get it right and you will have a great time stretching out the weekend’s social activities…

Loading...