Sunday, 4 January 2009

Drawn Blank: the art of Bob Dylan Woking Jan 09

The Lightbox exhibition in Woking winner of the £100,000 art fund prize for museums & galleries in 2008, is currently hosting an exhibition of Bob Dylan paintings: ‘Drawn Blank’  

Sketched in the late 80s early 90s during his travels in USA Europe and Asia. He started drawing ‘to relax and refocus a restless mind’. ‘What would I draw? Well I guess I would start with whatever was at hand. I sat at the table, took out a pencil and paper and drew... I’d lose touch of time completely. An hour or two could go by, and it would seem like only a minute’

You can see the paintings on Bob Dylan's website 

They are reworkings in 2007 of the original sketches. Provincial scenes that appeal to a traveller like me. Places and people, pub-life, town and country. Modes of transport, bicycles and trucks. Hotel rooms and cafés, views from balconies. Some pictures framed by windows, portholes, doors. An empty motel pool. Man on a bridge. Train tracks. Woman in Red Lion pub. A lazy Sunday afternoon down by the river. Dad’s Restaurant. 

They have a ‘singularly disenchanted aura about them, a feel of unresisting and unrewarding blankness’ (Andrew Graham-Dixon in the book Drawn Blank) ‘Dylan’s coiled and slightly nervous manner of drawing, which often teeters on the brink of cartoon or caricature is in a line of descent that goes back to the works of artists like Toulouse- Lautrec, Degas, van Gogh.’ 

I started connecting the pictures to the music. His portfolios are repetitive, same picture, different colouring. The Woman in the Red Lion Pub (from Blackpool), reminded me ‘the times they are a changing’

And 'Slow train comin’ was so slow in fact that it couldn’t yet be seen on his painting of ‘Train Tracks’ (Minnesota) . 

The Van Goghic man on the bridge (looked like Moscow to me) seemed to be ‘knocking on heaven’s door’. A tramp-like prophet, singing out his haunting songs:

‘When you gonna wake up, when you gonna  wake up

When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?’

‘But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed

You're gonna have to serve somebody,

Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord

But you're gonna have to serve somebody.’

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