PARIS, FRANCE.- The Fondation Cartier Pour l’Art Contemporain presents The Air is on Fire, an exhibition devoted to the multifaceted visual art creations of David Lynch. This event marks the first time that the filmmaker has made a large number of his paintings, photographs, drawings, alternative films, and sound production available to the public. It expresses the scope of his artistic creation with never-before-seen works, installed in an environment designed by him and complemented by a program of events, including live performances and concerts, that he created.
Born in Montana in 1946, David Lynch spent most of his childhood sketching and painting. In 1965, he went on to study fine arts at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where his passion for the moving image was stirred: working alone in his studio, he saw a soft wind gently move the objects stuck onto the canvas before him, and six months later, his first experimental short film was completed. This gave birth to one of the world’s most treasured filmmakers, and the youngest director to receive the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion for lifetime achievement, awarded in September 2006 after the premiere of his new film, INLAND EMPIRE. Throughout his career, Lynch has actively continued painting, photographing, and drawing, and has even broadened his artistic practice to include animation, music composition, and sound production. The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain is honored to present the most complete exhibition of his “behind the scenes” artistic expression.
The Air is on Fire was born from David Lynch’s studio full of paintings, cupboards of black archival boxes, and shelves of labeled binders containing countless drawings. This well preserved collection of his own art dates back to his high school days and, until now, has primarily remained out of sight. Graciously revealed to Hervé Chandès, director of the Fondation Cartier, these works are reassembled here in distinctive environments accompanied by pervading sounds, all conceived by the artist himself—a life-sized recreation of a drawing of a living room, fantastical spaces filled with large-scale curtained structures upon which his paintings are hung, and a mini movie theatre inspired by Eraserhead (1977). These spaces form a highly personal show that offers the viewer a unique opportunity to interact with a new side of Lynch’s vision in an environment that remains all his own.
David Lynch’s paintings, photographs, and drawings reconstruct his childhood experiences, his adolescent fantasies, and his adult preoccupations. The recurring theme of the home, with its potentially sinister underbelly, is represented in dark paintings complete with cryptic messages and organic textures. Lynch’s outrageous sense of humor, however, is also present in the difficult issues his paintings tackle, echoing the cutting comic relief found in even his most disconcerting film work. His photography also captures various moods and atmospheres, from sensual and dreamy to somber and troubling. The artist’s nude studies, for example, feature women with typical Lynchian characteristics like red painted lips and nails and alluringly glamorous attitudes. Photographs of industrial areas treat sewage pipes, bridges, and deserted factories with as much care as nude models, filling remote landscapes with sensibility and importance. The Distorted Nudes series consists of taboo black and white erotic photographs, dating from 1840 to 1940, that the artist digitally reworked to form creatures that remain human but adopt surreal forms and expressions. David Lynch’s sketches and drawings compose the most intimate aspect of his creations. On view for the very first time in The Air is on Fire, these works, kept since childhood and regularly consulted by Lynch for inspiration, offer an exceptional and uncensored glimpse into his creative process; they capture the artist’s inspirations most clearly, exposing the common threads that run through his entire oeuvre.
A major publication in both English and French containing numerous reproductions of David Lynch’s fine art and film work will accompany the exhibition. It will feature a CD recording of a conversation between the artist and American journalist Kristine McKenna, who comment on the book’s illustrations with ideas, anecdotes, and interpretations. A rich interview between Boris Groys and Andrei Ujica explores the connections between art and cinema within the framework of 20th century art history, and more particularly investigates Lynch’s body of work. It thereby provides a theoretical understanding of the manner in which this important filmmaker, painter, sculptor, and photographer constructs his entire oeuvre.
In connection with Nomadic Nights, the Fondation Cartier’s program of events in the performing arts, David Lynch has been given carte blanche. The calendar of concerts and performances selected by the artist will be available in February at fondation.cartier.com The exhibition David Lynch, The Air is on Fire is organized with support from the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, under the aegis of the Fondation de France, and with the sponsorship of Cartier.