NEWS: DAVID LYNCH NAMING @ mima | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Twin Peaks devotees are rejoicing worldwide that the gum they like is coming back in style (translation: the 25-year gone series is getting a revival). But not all Dale Cooper nuts might be so familiar with genius creator/director David Lynch‘s art prowess. Not only has the filmmaker been producing a constant stream of cult gold for the last 40+ years (Eraserhead, The Elephant Man,  Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive…the list goes on), he’s also a master of photography, drawings, watercolours and print work, which have impressively managed to be every bit as beautiful and otherworldly as his film and TV output.

In a massive coupe for the region, the new exhibition of his work, David Lynch Naming, will receive its UK gallery premiere at mima, Middlesbrough between Friday 12th December and Thursday 26th March. Originally shown in Los Angeles, and curated by Brett Littman, Executive Director of the Drawing Centre in New York, the exhibition of Lynch’s work, dating back to the 1960s, is foregoing the capital and heading straight to Teesside; clearly an indication of the region’s damn good coffee and fine cherry pie.

As anybody with even the most basic knowledge of Lynch’s films will know, people and objects – whether they be owls or Victorian sideshow freaks – are never quite what they seem. The exhibition takes this idea and runs with it, exploring specifically the complex relations between objects and their names. In his Ricky Board series of drawings for example, created between 1987 and ‘88, the same object is repeated across four rows of five columns, with each given a different name. Unsurprisingly, this messes somewhat with the spectator’s brain, and new and unexpected associations begin to emerge. Then again, when we see a drawing of an ant and the word ‘ant’ written underneath, should we ever really expect these to connect so straightforwardly within Lynch’s weird and wonderful world?

David Lynch Naming provides a rare opportunity to encounter the legendary director’s wider portfolio up close – his enigmatic, nightmarish trademarks present and correct

Prior to Eraserhead, his 1977 film breakout involving a mutant baby and a female singer living inside a radiator, Lynch was best known for his similarly surrealist black and white shorts. The earliest piece in the exhibition, The Alphabet, runs at just under four minutes, and dates back to his student years at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. It’s based around a recollection his then wife had about their young niece ghoulishly reciting her ABCs in her sleep. The result is every bit as unsettling as you’d expect from Lynch, working in Python-esque animation, upside down chins, exorcism vibes, and a bucket-load of blood. Lynch went on to describe the piece, which start him off as a minor celebrity in the art world, as “a little nightmare about the fear connected with learning”, and he’s not half right; it’s enough to put you off your Alphabetti Spaghetti for life.

If you’ve only ever experienced Lynch through his body of film and TV work, David Lynch Naming provides a rare opportunity to encounter the legendary director’s wider portfolio up close – his enigmatic, nightmarish trademarks present and correct, in their purest, most original form. Backwards speaking dwarfs will seem tame in comparison.

David Lynch Naming is at mima, Middlesbrough from Friday 12th December until Thursday 26th March.


Dog, 2012. Mixed media on paper. 10 1/4 x 13 inches. Framed: 15 1/2 x 18 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles

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