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David Lynch: squeaky flies in the mud

1 November – 21 December 2019, Sperone Westwater, New York

David Lynch is well known for his films and television work, initially he studied art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Lynch was born in Missoula, Montana in 1946 and in 2007, a major art retrospective devoted to Lynch, The Air is on Fire, was displayed at the Fondation Cartier in Paris. "Squeaky Flies in the Mud" is his first solo exhibition at Sperone Westwater, however, his inaugural exhibition in New York was with Leo Castelli Gallery in 1989.


Lynch’s bricolage works currently on view are immediately and incredibly dark. The materials are disheveled and dirty, requesting profundity and perseverance when viewing the framed narratives. Art, in general, is aesthetic, even in darkness; it is also conceptual, and has a story to tell. Art that expands before us, the longer we look, is the most releasing. Alas, concentrating on the negative may not be the realms in which you would like your mind to dwell. But, even so, it is in the subtle nuances in Lynch’s work that the strangeness within the bizarre imagery disclose to us other spheres.


As the viewer walks into Sperone Westwater and looks straight ahead into the distance of the space, Lynch offers an untroubled view in "Childhood Painting #1" of the rural farm, very green and alive compared to the other works, the red roof of the quaint farmhouse bright in the bottom left corner. This work is one of two works in the exhibition devoid of people and maintain a sense of innocence. (The second is a small work on the second floor, containing a small painted shape of Idaho with a seed pod.) Then, as we step deeper into the gallery a darkness unfolds. There is a delicate metamorphosis like an escape from the severity of Lynch's painterly circumstances.

Lynch is a master purveyor of thought. He embodies his narratives with surreal elements, like detaching heads from the characters. In, "Billy Sings the Tune for the Death Row Shuffle", we find unfamiliar threads of blood being collected from a dead dog in a very small jar this could be viewed as a revival regardless of the crime. The detached Micky Mouse head is floating above watching Billy with a satisfying grin. Could Micky be considered the instigator of this evil? In the work, "Ointment" is the ointment that is being rubbed on the bandaged wound of a vanishing body, to heal it or hide it? Insects are strangely sucking on homes in "Susie Left Home at Age 14", are we the insects? We find poor Sally hanging dead from a tree in "Bille (and His Friends) Did Find Sally in the Tree", are we witnessing her tragic soul in black falling away like dust to the ground and dissipating in the air?

Lynch is also exhibiting a series of lamps ranging from 2002 - 2019. They are all very Lynchian, the recent lamps that contain more organic qualities are very dreamlike. The yellow paint, painted in a perfect rectangle, on the wall behind "Violet Lamp" looks as if it is from the warm glow of the bulbs electricity.


- Laura Horne, New York, November 2019

Images courtesy of Sperone Westwater, New York

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