Bob Dylan: A New Collection of Original Paintings at Halcyon Gallery
Well into his 70s, Bob Dylan continues to be the creative gift that keeps on giving. The globally recognised musician, enduring cultural icon and visual artist sees his art showcased at Halcyon Gallery once more, in the form of a limited number of original paintings. The latest additions to his The Beaten Path series, these pieces are presented alongside a small selection of archived work from previous collections: Drawn Blank, Mondo Scripto and Mood Swings. An equally enjoyable jaunt for die-hard Dylan fans through to those unfamiliar with his artistic offerings, the exhibition provides a comprehensive yet digestible look at some of the musician’s main bodies of work.
Originally exhibited last year, Mondo Scripto features handwritten lyrics taken from a range of Dylan’s seminal hits. Flanking the entrance to the gallery’s contemporary space, the lyrics sit adjacent to graphite drawings sketched by the singer. The illustrations either directly reflect the words or are left open to interpretation. In some instances, he even tweaks the wording of lines, creating entirely new lyrics altogether. Though simple, it’s a remarkably effective choice and adds another layer to its meaning, allowing new perspectives to be formed with old material. While long-time fans will appreciate this, there is certainly something for everyone here.
The Drawn Blank series started life as charcoal, pen and crayon sketches made by Dylan while touring Europe, Asia and America in the late 80s and early 90s. In 1994, a book of the same name featuring 92 drawings was created, with the reworked versions of these images ultimately being displayed at Halcyon Gallery in 2008. The first of his work to ever be exhibited at the gallery, the paintings in this series are vivid watercolours of everything from still life, to portraits and landscapes, showing the almost accidental beauty in the mundane.
Mood Swings feels perhaps the least personal, despite being inspired by the artist’s childhood. Growing up in Hibbing, Minnesota – in an area known as the “Iron Range” – Dylan was heavily influenced by industry. Sculpted from cogs, spanners, chains and various other bits of ironwork, the creations fail to leave an impression though. Yes, it’s vaguely interesting to see how he’s fashioned all this metal into makeshift tables, banisters and the like, but any potential rawness or underlying message is lost with the ending result. It’s all a bit too polished and high-shine, with the sculptures ultimately looking more like glorified furniture than a representation of, or commentary on, anything deeper.
A modest room upstairs houses the artist’s latest collection, The Beaten Path. Reflecting both his roots and constant life on the road, the acrylic paintings on canvas portray various scenes ripped straight from an American landscape. The run-down motel? The gas station? The unassuming roadside diner? It’s all there. An opportunity to see Dylan’s travels through his eyes, it’s a fitting final stop on an insightful journey through an inspired catalogue of work.
Featured Image: Highway 61 Revisited … Bob Dylan’s Endless Highway 3, 2015–2016
Bob Dylan: A New Collection of Original Paintings is at Halcyon Gallery from 4th until 31st July 2019. For further information visit the exhibition’s website here.