Meeting a god: the diverse career of David Lynch on show at GOMA

Nick Prescott, Flinders University

Meeting a god is a forbidding prospect. For such a meeting, you need to be circumspect. You need to maintain a degree of elegance in the face of utter star-strike. And you need to be prepared to be surprised in all manner of ways. Not least by the fact that the deity in question, rather than being a firebreathing diva, might turn out to be generous and memorably warm.

Filmmaker and artist David Lynch has occupied a place in my Pantheon of Creators since I first saw Blue Velvet as a keen 16-year-old. He has continued to astonish, exhilarate and confront me in the intervening 20-plus years. At Between Two Worlds, the remarkable retrospective of Lynch’s work currently on show at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art, I came tantalisingly close to meeting one of my idols. I only got to ask him one question in the end, but it was worth the wait.

1991 was perhaps the point at which Lynch’s star rose to its public peak. Twin Peaks was enjoying staggering worldwide popularity and Lynch had won the film world’s most coveted award, the Palme d’Or, for Wild at Heart.

Blue Velvet (1986) trailer.

As a filmmaker, painter, photographer, sculptor, writer, campaigner, and – most surprisingly, perhaps – musician, Lynch has since carved a unique niche in the art world as the most idiosyncratic and renowned artistic talent ever to have filmed a cigarette commercial.

Between Two Worlds comprises an extensive selection of the artist’s painting, photography and lithographs, accompanied by an intriguing collection of lesser-known drawings, sketches and sculptures.

David Lynch’s Boy Lights Fire, 2010.

Evening screenings of Lynch’s films at the GOMA are being complemented by documentaries about the artist, musical performances inspired by his work, and a series of lectures and discussions set to illuminate what’s adorning the walls and screens (there’s even a Twin Peaks quiz night).

This is a comprehensive series of events indeed, featuring contributions from scholars and devotees, fellow artists and art historians. It is a major exhibition by any gallery’s standards and a significant moment for the city of Brisbane – many of whose walls, walkways and bus-stops are adorned with images from the exhibition.

Fanboys and girls will be delighted by all of this, of course, but there’s far more going on in the GOMA events than just the display of a series of works created by a cultural icon.

Curator José da Silva’s work with this exhibition finds perhaps its greatest triumph in its powerful explanation of the connections between all of the elements of Lynch’s artistic output.

It is in poring over the exhibition that we see the way in which tiny, elaborate sketches on match books and napkins inform the designs for the larger paintings, and the ways in which the paintings bleed into and out of the works for the cinema.

The importance of sound in Lynch’s oeuvre is also reinforced by a comprehensive collection of film scores and other musical works. Here, too, one sees a complexly inter-related series of compositions and collaborations that form a substantial element of the artist’s output.

There is a unity of vision on display here that confirms Lynch as indeed a major artist. His work maintains a series of thematic fascinations and stylistic trademarks that render it strikingly coherent, despite its oft-discussed “strangeness” and its frequent centralising of the abstract.

David Lynch’s Man Waking from Dream, 2008.

The notion of abstraction has indeed characterised the long discussion surrounding the works of this influential man. A notable element of Lynch’s address to his own work is his consistent refusal to be pinned down to any comfortable – or even consistent – notion of “meaning”.

There are numerous recorded examples of interviewers presenting the artist with “interpretations” of his work, only to – usually very politely – have these interpretations contradicted or juxtaposed with Lynch’s own alluringly ambiguous descriptions of process and intention.

During my yearned-for chance to pose a question to Lynch, I learned what it was like to have one’s carefully-composed proposition refuted.

I have long held that there are lucid connections between the profound affect Lynch’s works evoke in the viewer and the experience of dream. I asked him whether his work represented a way for him to share his dreams with an audience; the answer was no – though the gentle rebuttal was followed by a fascinating rumination on ideas of dream-logic, discontinuities, and the very sources of ideas, many of which Lynch claims to find through a kind of waking dreaming.

The response to my question was thus more intriguing than I had anticipated, even though it began with negation.

David Lynch remains, in every way, the genuine artefact: attentive and serious in response to questions, warm and generous in a brief meeting, and dedicated to an ongoing and expansive body of works.

Da Silva’s beautifully curated exhibition serves to reinforce these notions in the most memorable of ways.

Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art is hosting the exhibition David Lynch: Between Two Worlds until June 7. Details here.

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Brad Pitt and family step in at ‘Unbroken’ premiere without Angelina Jolie

Brad Pitt and kids, sons Pax and Maddox and daughter Shiloh, represent Unbroken which directed by his wife Angelina Jolie at premiere on Monday during her bout with chicken pox.

The 39-year-old actress/director made in a video posted Friday ahead of the promotional tour for the World War II drama. (Read More)

In the meantime, their eight-year-old daughter no longer wants to be known as Shiloh – she’d rather be called John. Her dad, Brad Pitt, recently disclosed in an interview that when he would call her ‘Shi’, she’d interrupt him saying, ‘I’m John’. (Read More)

Unbroken star Jack O’Connell, who plays former prisoner of war and Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini in the biopic.

Ridley Scott to produce ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ sequel on SyFy

IT’S OFFICIAL! A sequel miniseries to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey entitled 3001 is being create with Ridley Scott on board as executive producer and Pirates of the Caribbean scribe Stuart Beattie penning the adaptation. The new series, 3001: The Final Odyssey, will be based on classic sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke’s novel of the same name, and will reportedly see release sometime in 2015. The series will most likely follow astronaut Frank Poole who, after being thrown into deep space by HAL-9000 in 2001, is reawakened 1000 years into Earth’s future.

In an official statement, Ridley Scott said:

“I have always been a fan of Clarke’s extraordinary Odyssey series, and certainly Kubrick’s adaptation of 2001. I am thrilled to be part of bringing that legacy to audiences and continuing the great cinematic tradition that this story and its creators deserve.”

This is only the latest project with Scott attached. The director has already worked on the new Halo series Halo:Nightfall, due out later this month, and is attached to produced a upcoming biopic on rocket scientist Jack Parsons.

Kevin Smith Says Clerks 3 Rising From Tusk’s Ashes

When Kevin Smith reported that the Weinsteins had said nay to financing his proposed budget of $6 million for Clerks 3 earlier this year, it seemed that a resurrection of the cult film had been officially canned. Fortunately for Smith fans, the box office bombing of his last effort Tusk had a nice silver lining that’ll be sure to put the indecency back in filmmaking, the porn spread back in our faces, the smell of shoe polish back in our noses.. the cigarettes back in the hands of 4 year old girls… ok, you get the point.

Here are the words straight from Silent Bob’s mouth:

TUSK was the absolute bridge to CLERKS III. Because of TUSK I got my financing for CLERKS III. And honestly, that wouldn’t have happened without Tusk. A year and change ago I was desperately trying to get CLERKS III made for the 20th anniversary and that desperation, I must have reeked of it because I couldn’t f*cking find money and shit. But it was Tusk, people going ‘Holy f*ck, what else do you have?’ and I was like ‘Clerks III‘ and they’re like ‘done’. So, everybody that’s like, ‘he failed, he failed’, I’m like ‘thank you, I failed into CLERKS III.”

Robert Rodriguez Takes From Dusk Till Dawn To TV

Fans of Robert Rodriguez will be happy to know that the famous director will be taking his 1996 cult film to television. Rodriguez has high hopes for his show on his new El Rey tv network saying, “It is seeing something that you’ve never seen before, this Mesoamerican mythology of demon culture and these vampires that are not your traditional vampires.”

Director Robert Rodriguez has adapted his cult 1996 film into From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, premiering this year on Rodriguez’s own El Rey Network. The series expands on the film, adding new characters and plotlines to the story of two bank robbers — and the family they hold hostage — as they try to survive against vampires.
“We see things that led up to events in the film, and much deeper character motivations and storylines to sort of launch into the new story that we’re doing,” Rodriguez told BuzzFeed. “The film was a short story. This is the novel version.”
D.J. Cotrona and Zane Holtz will star as Seth and Richie Gecko, pictured here. The roles were originated by George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino, who also wrote the script, making these big shoes to fill.

Read more via Buzzfeed.

Banned Alfred Hitchcock Holocaust Documentary Finally Released

The Imperial War Museum says the movie had been suppressed for political reasons and that pieces of it were removed for the 1984 viewing in both Berlin and the U.S., but Alfred Hitchcock’s documentary on the Holocaust has finally been restored to its original intended production and will be released in 2015 on British television marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Europe.

During the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945, Hitchcock was asked to put together footage he received by a British army film unit cameraman who shot scenes of the horrible conditions of the camp. The film was to be shown to the German people to shed more light on the atrocities carried out by the Nazis, but was banned due to political unrest in the country after the war.

Martin Scorsese Pens Letter to Daughter About Film Industry

ON the Italian website Espresso, director Martin Scorsese submitted an open letter to his daughter with hopes for a bright future in the film industry, saying that the old way of doing things is now over and the new way of independent film is how the industry will be from now on.

Dearest Francesca,

I’m writing this letter to you about the future. I’m looking at it through the lens of my world. Through the lens of cinema, which has been at the center of that world.

For the last few years, I’ve realized that the idea of cinema that I grew up with, that’s there in the movies I’ve been showing you since you were a child, and that was thriving when I started making pictures, is coming to a close. I’m not referring to the films that have already been made. I’m referring to the ones that are to come.

I don’t mean to be despairing. I’m not writing these words in a spirit of defeat. On the contrary, I think the future is bright.

We always knew that the movies were a business, and that the art of cinema was made possible because it aligned with business conditions. None of us who started in the 60s and 70s had any illusions on that front. We knew that we would have to work hard to protect what we loved. We also knew that we might have to go through some rough periods. And I suppose we realized, on some level, that we might face a time when every inconvenient or unpredictable element in the moviemaking process would be minimized, maybe even eliminated. The most unpredictable element of all? Cinema. And the people who make it.