Issue 36 May 2024

Issue 35 February 2024

Issue 34 November 2023

Issue 33 August 2023

Issue 32 June 2023

Issue 31 February 2023

Issue 30 November 2022

Issue 29 August 2022

Issue 28 May 2022

Issue 27 February 2022

Issue 26 November 2021

Issue 25 August 2021

Issue 24 May 2021

Issue 23 February 2021

Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
Parasites in Love –Travis Diehl
To Crush Absolute On Patrick Staff and
Destroying the Institution
–Jonathan Griffin
Victoria Fu:
Camera Obscured
–Cat Kron
Resurgence of Resistance How Pattern & Decoration's Popularity
Can Help Reshape the Canon
–Catherine Wagley
Trace, Place, Politics Julie Mehretu's Coded Abstractions
–Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.: Featuring: Friedrich Kunath,
Tristan Unrau, and Nevine Mahmoud
–Claressinka Anderson & Joe Pugliese
Reviews April Street
at Vielmetter Los Angeles
–Aaron Horst

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Mike Kelley
at Hauser & Wirth
–Angella d’Avignon
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Issue 18 November 2019

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
The Briar and the Tar Nayland Blake at the ICA LA
and Matthew Marks Gallery
–Travis Diehl
Putting Aesthetics
to Hope
Tracking Photography’s Role
in Feminist Communities
– Catherine Wagley
Instagram STARtists
and Bad Painting
– Anna Elise Johnson
Interview with Jamillah James – Lindsay Preston Zappas
Working Artists Featuring Catherine Fairbanks,
Paul Pescador, and Rachel Mason
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Children of the Sun
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
–Aaron Horst

Karl Holmqvist
at House of Gaga, Los Angeles
–Lee Purvey

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

Jeanette Mundt
at Overduin & Co.
–Matt Stromberg
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Issue 17 August 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Green Chip David Hammons
at Hauser & Wirth
–Travis Diehl
Whatever Gets You
Through the Night
The Artists of Dilexi
and Wartime Trauma
–Jonathan Griffin
Generous Collectors How the Grinsteins
Supported Artists
–Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Donna Huanca
–Lindsy Preston Zappas
Working Artist Featuring Ragen Moss, Justen LeRoy,
and Bari Ziperstein
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Sarah Lucas
at the Hammer Museum
–Yxta Maya Murray

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
–Julie Weitz

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Alex Israel
at Greene Naftali
–Rosa Tyhurst

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Issue 16 May 2019

Trulee Hall's Untamed Magic Catherine Wagley
Ingredients for a Braver Art Scene Ceci Moss
I Shit on Your Graves Travis Diehl
Interview with Ruby Neri Jonathan Griffin
Carolee Schneemann and the Art of Saying Yes! Chelsea Beck
Exquisite L.A. Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Ry Rocklen
at Honor Fraser
–Cat Kron

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age
of Black Power, 1963-1983
at The Broad
–Matt Stromberg

Anna Sew Hoy & Diedrick Brackens
at Various Small Fires
–Aaron Horst

Julia Haft-Candell & Suzan Frecon
at Parrasch Heijnen
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Shahryar Nashat
at Swiss Institute
–Christie Hayden
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Issue 15 February 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor
Men on Women
Geena Brown
Eyes Without a Voice
Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto
Christina Catherine Martinez
Seven Minute Dream Machine
Jordan Wolfson's (Female figure)
Travis Diehl
Laughing in Private
Vanessa Place's Rape Jokes
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Rosha Yaghmai
Laura Brown
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Patrick Martinez,
Ramiro Gomez, and John Valadez
Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Outliers and American
Vanguard Art at LACMA
–Jonathan Griffin

Sperm Cult
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Matt Paweski
at Park View / Paul Soto
–John Zane Zappas

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Catherine Opie
at Lehmann Maupin
–Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 14 November 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Figurative Religion Catherine Wagley
Lynch in Traffic Travis Diehl
The Remixed Symbology of Nina Chanel Abney Lindsay Preston Zappas
Interview with Kulapat Yantrasast Christie Hayden
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Sandra de la Loza, Gloria Galvez, and Steve Wong
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews Raúl de Nieves
at Freedman Fitzpatrick
-Aaron Horst

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Eckhaus Latta
at the Whitney Museum
of American Art
-Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 13 August 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor Julie Weitz with Angella d'Avignon
Don't Make
Everything Boring
Catherine Wagley
The Collaborative Art
World of Norm Laich
Matt Stromberg
Oddly Satisfying Art Travis Diehl
Made in L.A. 2018 Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Jennifer Remenchik
Aaron Horst
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Anna Sew Hoy, Guadalupe Rosales, and Shizu Saldamando
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews It's Snowing in LA
at AA|LA
–Matthew Lax

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

Show 2
at The Gallery @ Michael's
–Simone Krug

Deborah Roberts
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
–Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Math Bass
at Mary Boone
–Ashton Cooper

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Condo New York
–Laura Brown
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Issue 12 May 2018

Poetic Energies and
Radical Celebrations:
Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger
Simone Krug
Interior States of the Art Travis Diehl
Perennial Bloom:
Florals in Feminism
and Across L.A.
Angella d'Avignon
The Mess We're In Catherine Wagley
Interview with Christina Quarles Ashton Cooper
Object Project
Featuring Suné Woods, Michelle Dizon,
and Yong Soon Min
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Meleko Mokgosi
at The Fowler Museum at UCLA
-Jessica Simmons

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

iris yirei hsu
at the Women's Center
for Creative Work
- Hana Cohn

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

Reena Spaulings
at Matthew Marks
- Thomas Duncan
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Issue 11 February 2018

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Museum as Selfie Station Matt Stromberg
Accessible as Humanly as Possible Catherine Wagley
On Laura Owens on Laura Owens Travis Diehl
Interview with Puppies Puppies Jonathan Griffin
Object Project Lindsay Preston Zappas, Jeff McLane
Reviews Dulce Dientes
at Rainbow in Spanish
- Aaron Horst

Adrián Villas Rojas
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
- Lindsay Preston Zappas

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960- 1985
at the Hammer Museum
- Thomas Duncan

Hannah Greely and William T. Wiley
at Parker Gallery
- Keith J. Varadi

David Hockney
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.A. in N.Y.)
- Ashton Cooper

Edgar Arceneaux
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (L.A. in S.F.)
- Hana Cohn
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Issue 10 November 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Barely Living with Art:
The Labor of Domestic
Spaces in Los Angeles
Eli Diner
She Wanted Adventure:
Dwan, Butler, Mizuno, Copley
Catherine Wagley
The Languages of
All-Women Exhibitions
Lindsay Preston Zappas
L.A. Povera Travis Diehl
On Eclipses:
When Language
and Photography Fail
Jessica Simmons
Interview with
Hamza Walker
Julie Wietz
Object Project
Featuring: Rosha Yaghmai,
Dianna Molzan, and Patrick Jackson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McLane
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Regen Projects
Ibid Gallery
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and MOCA PDC
The Mistake Room
Luis De Jesus Gallery
the University Art Gallery at CSULB
the Autry Museum
Reviews Cheyenne Julien
at Smart Objects

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

Trigger: Gender as a Tool as a Weapon
at the New Museum
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 9 August 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women on the Plinth Catherine Wagley
Us & Them, Now & Then:
Reconstituting Group Material
Travis Diehl
The Offerings of EJ Hill
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Interview with Jenni Sorkin Carmen Winant
Object Project
Featuring: Rebecca Morris,
Linda Stark, Alex Olson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McClane
Reviews Mark Bradford
at the Venice Biennale

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects


Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
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Issue 8 May 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures:
Alice Könitz and LAMOA
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Penny Slinger
Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Alessandro Pessoli
at Marc Foxx

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter to the Editor
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Issue 7 February 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature
at The Broad

Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler
at House of Gaga // Reena Spaulings Fine Art

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
at the Landing
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Issue 6 November 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

The Weeping Line
Organized by Alter Space
at Four Six One Nine
(S.F. in L.A.)
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Issue 5 August 2016

Letter form the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Revolution in the Making
at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

Performing the Grid
at Ben Maltz Gallery
at Otis College of Art & Design

Laura Owens
at The Wattis Institute
(L.A. in S.F.)
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Issue 4 May 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue
at The Mistake Room

Carter Mull
at fused space
(L.A. in S.F.)

Awol Erizku
at FLAG Art Foundation
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 3 February 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Share Your Piece
of the Puzzle
Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Honeydew
at Michael Thibault

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
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Issue 2 November 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings:
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food:
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee:
William Pope.L’s "Reenactor"
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

No Joke
at Tanya Leighton
(L.A. in Berlin)
Snap Reviews Martin Basher at Anat Ebgi
Body Parts I-V at ASHES ASHES
Eve Fowler at Mier Gallery
Matt Siegle at Park View
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Issue 1 August 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
Mateo Tannatt
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

Unwatchable Scenes and
Other Unreliable Images...
at Public Fiction

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

Henry Taylor
at Blum & Poe/ Untitled
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
1301 PE
Anat Ebgi (La Cienega)
Anat Ebgi (Wilshire)
Arcana Books
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Babst Gallery
Baert Gallery
Bel Ami
Canary Test
Carlye Packer
Charlie James Gallery
Château Shatto
Chris Sharp Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Clay ca
Commonwealth & Council
Craft Contemporary
D2 Art (Inglewood)
D2 Art (Westwood)
David Kordansky Gallery
David Zwirner
Diane Rosenstein
François Ghebaly
Gana Art Los Angeles
George Billis Gallery
Giovanni's Room
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Harper's Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Heavy Manners Library
Helen J Gallery
Human Resources
in lieu
LaPau Gallery
Lisson Gallery
Louis Stern Fine Arts
Lowell Ryan Projects
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Make Room Los Angeles
Matter Studio Gallery
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Morán Morán
Moskowitz Bayse
Nazarian / Curcio
Night Gallery
Nino Mier Gallery
NOON Projects
O-Town House
One Trick Pony
Paradise Framing
Park View / Paul Soto
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
Regen Projects
Reparations Club
r d f a
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater)
Roberts Projects
Royale Projects
Sean Kelly
Sebastian Gladstone
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Smart Objects
Steve Turner
Stroll Garden
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The Box
The Fulcrum
The Hole
The Landing
The Poetic Research Bureau
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
Tierra del Sol Gallery
Tiger Strikes Astroid
Tomorrow Today
Track 16
Tyler Park Presents
USC Fisher Museum of Art
UTA Artist Space
Various Small Fires
Village Well Books & Coffee
Outside L.A.
Libraries/ Collections
Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Bard College, CCS Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
University of California Irvine, Langston IMCA (Irvine, CA)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Lynch in Traffic

David Lynch, Sally’s in the Kitchen (2013). Mixed Media on paper. 22 1/4 x 30 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Kayne Griffin Corcoran.

life slips away
it always slips away
sometimes death comes quickly
sometimes you don’t see it coming
but life still slips away
always slips away
–disco song

It was probably not the worming rush hour of Mulholland Drive’s switchbacks that David Lynch had in mind. In his film, the cars move. The plot of Mullholland Drive (2001) skims the ridge north of Hollywood then descends into the city of dreams. The opening title takes the form of a road sign in headlights; the first event is a car wreck that robs the main character of her memory. The road is the cusp from which height Lynch’s characters are seduced, then overcome, by the irreality below. The film is famously inconclusive, and endlessly interpreted—a narrative strung up to loop—just as Lynch’s feverish, recursive montage “of the subconscious” suggests a psychoanalysis that will never result in cure. Meanwhile, a weekday evening finds the dirt-and scrub-covered Hollywood Hills constipated by flesh and blood—the occasional Bentley or Aston Martin idling among the gardening and pool trucks, the delivery vans having disgorged their antiques and paintings, all packed in by a mob of BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes. The whole social strata of Tinseltown braves these narrow, winding slopes in a traffic jam that, like death, claims both the weary and the rich.

When film grinds to a halt, you have photography—but painting comes just as close to the prosody of all those stalled sports cars, hermetic and inert—the way David Lynch might paint them as black cartoons. “Sally’s in the Kitchen,” reads one of Lynch’s 2013 drawings. Sally isn’t pictured. Instead, a plane strafes the ground (emitting bullets, or punctuation, or turds), a man throws up his hands, and the hood of a vintage car erupts in smoke. In Sally Has 2 Heads (2013), it’s true: a ragdoll rendering of a girl in a red dress has, capping her sloping left arm, a girl’s head, and, on her proper neck, the muddy face of a German shepherd, labeled “Dog head.” The only other marks on the paper, towards the bottom, describe a row of three cars—green coupe, yellow convertible, black pickup truck—all styled with the languid lines of the 1950s. Their immobility denies the caption: “cars drive by.”

One anecdote cited in nearly every account of Lynch’s paintings serves to insist that Lynch is not merely a filmmaker who dabbles in painting (like too many actors, musicians, politicians, and other would-be polymaths); he is, and was, a painter first. From a 2011 issue of Purple magazine:

Alex Israel: I read somewhere that one day while you were painting you were suddenly captivated by wind.

David Lynch: Actually, I was sitting in a chair, in a space smaller than this room, looking at a painting. I don’t remember how big it was, maybe four feet square. All of the sudden the painting sort of started to expand and contract and a wind-like sound came from it. I thought, “Moving painting!” Then I thought, “How could you make a moving painting?” Of course, that’s stop motion, that’s cinema.1

This epiphany, a hallucination of the kind we now call Lynchian, happened while the filmmaker was in art school at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Soon Lynch would drop out and head to film school in Los Angeles, eventually making Eraserhead (1977) and the rest. A precocious visual artist even as a child, Lynch trained as a painter, and it was painting that led him to film, and, as if anticipating a press release, he never really stopped painting. (Maybe, though, he has stopped making movies; as of this writing, Inland Empire, 2006, was his last feature film.) Moreover, just as the stars of Mullholland Drive flail and drown in the fumes of Southland cliché, Lynch is an obsessed painter, a compelled painter, a coffee and cigarettes and studio painter—the very 1950s coiffed and bohemian cliché of a Painter. Lynch even played a “Painter” in John Byrum’s Heart Beat, 1980—a period piece about Jack Kerouac’s inner circle—but was cut from the final print. “All I wanted to do,” says the artist, “was paint.”2

In this sense, too, Lynch’s late paintings are stylistically and thematically retrograde. They don’t move. His childlike factories and rotary phones idle in the same mid-century iconicity as his notion of what art is, or is for. Lynch’s advocates3 detect an echo of Edward Hopper’s diners, say—not to mention his gas stations—but so what if every fluffy stack of pancakes is drizzled with bile? Art “reveals”—but reveals what? Airplane and Tower (2013) depicts an elongated plane with a Korean War-era cockpit hurtling towards an obelisk of scaffolding—dare we say, a Washington Monument of the soul. If we perceive something sinister in the juxtaposition of these two simple, innocent shapes, the idea goes, it is because Lynch has channeled an anxiety we’ve been unable to name. But has he? The work is post- 9/11, and anyway this kind of disaster-masochism isn’t such a subconscious so much as a conscious part of the American psyche. Whatever gothic pyromania and domestic abuse seeps through Lynch’s cracks has been preempted by (not just his own films, but) the Dada collage of early punk, of the internet, and of the news.

David Lynch, Sally Floats Out (2018). Mixed media painting, 31 x 27 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Kayne Griffin Corcoran. Photo: Flying Studio, Los Angeles.

It turns out every Lynch painting has the same twist: things that look nice can be mean. This constant intimation of threat is exhausting, revealing mostly the Hollywood banality of our cultural id—Llyn Foulkes with less range, Francis Bacon (an avowed influence of Lynch) but with less alcohol. A grey man holds out a grey potato in Man with Potato (2015), and a puss-pink rose labeled “flower” erupts from the dreary sky. In Sally Floats Out (2018) the little girl’s symbol-shaped house is rendered in a menacing, dark impasto. The singsong title Billy (and His Friends) Did Find Sally in the Tree (2018) in fact describes a lynching: Sally has been hanged.

There’s a narrow ease particular to Lynch’s painterly work. It seems approachable, even apprehensible. The paintings appeal to what one reviewer calls the “completist” drive of the Lynch fan.4 Here on the wall is a painting; but it might also be, if you believe in art the way the ’50s did, a window into the auteur’s thoughts.5 Either way, Lynch’s paintings and drawings rely on the enduring myth of art as psychoanalytic fodder. Like Lynch’s dream-obsessed characters, the collector will spend their life trying to decipher someone else’s nightmare—living someone else’s life, or acting in it, or just watching. But Lynch has already solved the riddle; there is nothing else.

In Lynch’s films, however, the next symbol never resolves the last. Even as their  narratives contort the path from dreams to meaning—in Mullholland Drive, for instance, each of the two lead actors plays two characters in a way that mystifies the limits of the film’s illusion—his art gives up that irresolute, Jungian thrill. Pop surrealism leads to pop psychoanalysis. “My head is disconnected,” reads the text above a cartoon man in a grisaille painting of the same name (c.1994); sure enough, a box hovers above a figure’s clipped neck. In a large triptych on panel, Boy Lights Fire (2010), a mush-faced kid reaches dream-long arms across a tiny black house to strike a match. Lynch sees childishness—not only the depiction of children, and toy-like rendering, but a faux-naif approach to his subjects—as opening up possibility, returning to the prelapsarian freedom of imagination before we settle into routinized, adult thought. Lynch paints the inescapable tortures of dreams—not the bugs under the perfect green lawn so much as an ineradicable unease with bugs, a hardwired disgust underlying a universal-ish sort of symbolism. BOY. FIRE. HOUSE. Bad. But while his films move on from there, the paintings stay put.

Thus, Lynch trades the virtuosity of his films for a technically accomplished but rhetorically stunted vision of the plastic arts. He offers an aesthetic fiction: a dedicated insider, with art school chops and a respectable dealer, wielding the aesthetic of Art Brut or Outsider—that is to say, a put-on authenticity. Yet any student of Lynch knows that authenticity is just another sham. Lynch seems to know this too. The paintings and drawings exhibit a transparent attempt to be weird,
and to (maybe) symbolize something more than weirdness itself: a de facto perversion of authentic expression, as if only fucked-up thought can be true. Naturally. The experience of these spooky inklings comes not as a shock, but as consummation.

Day in and day out, minor screenwriters workshop their scripts in the coffee shops of Los Feliz (not quite East Hollywood, let alone Mulholland), trying to arrive at the right tessellation of Krav Maga guru, gas station, and loaded gun. Lynch’s paintings likewise shuffle clichés. This is not what Lynch does in his films, where he banishes cliché to a life behind a dumpster or has cliché’s body go undiscovered. We dream in films, not drawings. And, while we’re dreaming, those rolling scenes feel vital and threatening in a way that never survives their recollection as waking, static surrealism. The moving image, in contrast, might leverage its action against the clichés it propels, even as set, character, and plot follow familiar paths (the conventions that Gilles Deleuze calls “the crisis of both the action-image and the American Dream”6). On a Mulholland Drive of dusty high beams and midnight runs, Lynch the filmmaker makes cliché into a vehicle.

Lynch’s first moving-image work was a hybrid: Six men getting sick (1967) consists of a film of six men puking in unison, projected onto a white relief of three more men. Their stomachs well up with red fluid, and they vomit; the film loops. What remains at stake in this artwork isn’t so much its bald parable of immobility and disgust, its depiction of men trapped in a Sisyphean barf fest—granted, an appropriate response to the modern condition—but its diagnosable conflict between moving and not. This dynamic, absent in Lynch’s drawings and paintings, is amply illustrated by the city itself: One warm Hollywood evening, a white late-model sedan pulls to the curb in front of a theater. A man rolls down the back passenger window, and vomits, orange, all down the car’s white side. People in line outside are revolted, or amused; some don’t notice. The car sulks back into traffic.    

This essay was originally published in Carla issue 14. 

David Lynch, I Was A Teenage Insect (2018) (installation view). Image courtesy of the artist and Kayne Griffin Corcoran. Photo: Flying Studio, Los Angeles.

David Lynch, Sally Has Two Heads (2013). Mixed media on paper mounted to wood panel, 31 x 27 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Kayne Griffin Corcoran.

David Lynch, Billy (and His Friends) Did Find Sally in the Tree (2018). Mixed media painting, 66 x 66 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Kayne Griffin Corcoran. Photo: Flying Studio, Los Angeles.

David Lynch, Ricky Finds out He Has Shit for Brains (2017). Mixed media painting, 31 x 27 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Kayne Griffin Corcoran. Photo: Flying Studio, Los Angeles.

  1. David Lynch, interviewed by Alex Israel, Purple Magazine, F/W 2011, issue 16,
  2.  Rick Barnes, Olivia Neergaard-Holm, and Jon Nguyen, dirs., David Lynch: The Art Life (2016; Denmark), film.
  3. Robert Cozzolino, David Lynch: The Unified Field (Berkeley: U of C Press, 2014).
  4. Ken Johnson, “Forever Wild at Heart,” The New York Times, September 17, 2014,
  5. For instance, Thomas Micchelli describes Lynch’s paintings as “chunks of crystalized consciousness that have cracked off his monumental id and fallen to the studio floor, where he picked them up and glued them to ratty sheets of cardboard.” Thomas Micchelli, “Shrapnel from the Skies,” Hyperallergic, October 11, 2014,
  6. Gilles Deleuze, Cinema I: The Movement-Image (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1986), 210.

Travis Diehl has lived in Los Angeles since 2009. He is a recipient of the Creative Capital / Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant (2013) and the Rabkin Prize in Visual Arts Journalism (2018).

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