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
Launch Party May 18th, 2019
@ The Pit
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
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
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
Launch Party February 2019
Frieze Los Angeles, ALAC,
Spring Break Art Fair, Felix
Buy the Issue In our Online Shop
Reviews Outliers and American
Vanguard Art at LACMA
–Jonathan Griffin

Sperm Cult
at LAXART
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
at MOCA PDC
–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
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
Launch Party November 18, 2018
at Odd Ark L.A.
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
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
Launch Party August 18, 2018
At Praz-Delavallade
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
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
Launch Party May 19, 2018
at Karma International
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
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
Launch Party
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
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
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.)
Launch Party November 18, 2017
at the Landing
Object Project
Featuring: Rosha Yaghmai,
Dianna Molzan, and Patrick Jackson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McLane
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Reviews
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
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
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
Launch Party August 19th at Blum and Poe
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

Home
at LACMA

Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
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.
Featuring:
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Letter to the Editor
Launch Party May 13, 2017
at Commonwealth and Council
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 from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Generous
Structures
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
Launch Party February 18, 2017
at Shulamit Nazarian
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
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

Ma
at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
at the Landing
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
at LACMA
Jessica Simmons
Launch Party Carla Issue 6
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Mertzbau
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.)
Letter form the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Non-Fiction
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
at REDCAT
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Launch Party Carla Issue 5
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
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.)
Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Reconsidering
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
at LACMA
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Launch Party Carla Issue 4
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room
at LACMA

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.)
Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
F.B.I.
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
and LOUDHAILER
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Launch Party Carla Issue 3
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
at ASHES/ASHES
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
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
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
Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
MEAT PHYSICS/
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
SOGTFO
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
@barnettcohen
Mateo Tannatt
Photographs
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Launch Party Carla Issue 1
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe
at LACMA

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.)
Distribution
Downtown
A+D Museum
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Baert Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Château Shatto
Elevator Mondays
The Geffen Contemporary 
at MOCA
Ghebaly Gallery
ICA LA
JOAN
LACA
Mistake Room
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Night Gallery
The Box
Wilding Cran Gallery
Boyle Heights/ Chinatown
A.G. Geiger
Charlie James
Good Luck Gallery
Human Resources
Ibid Gallery
Parrasch Heijnen Gallery
Nicodim Gallery

Eastside
ESXLA
Odd Ark LA
Oof Books
Otherwild
River Gallery
Smart Objects
Women's Center for Creative Work
Westside
18th Street Arts
Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis
Crap Eyewear
DXIX Projects
Five Car Garage
Laband Art Gallery at LMU
team (bungalow)
Pasadena/ Glendale/ Valley
The Armory Center for the Arts
The Pit
Los Angeles Valley College
Mid-City
1301 PE
Big Pictures Los Angeles
California African American Museum
E.C. Liná
Commonwealth & Council
David Kordansky Gallery
Hunter Shaw Fine Art
Kayne Griffin Corcoran
Lowell Ryan Projects
ltd Los Angeles
Marciano Art Foundation
Ochi Projects
Praz-Delavallade
the Landing
Shoot the Lobster
SPRÜTH MAGERS
The Underground Museum
USC Fisher Museum of Art
Visitor Welcome Center
Culver City
Anat Ebgi
Arcana Books
Blum & Poe
Honor Fraser
Klowden Mann
Luis De Jesus
Philip Martin Gallery
Roberts Projects
Susanne Vielmetter
Hollywood
AA|LA
Diane Rosenstein
East Hollywood Fine Art
Family Books
GAVLAK
LACE
LA> M+B
Nino Mier Gallery
Moskowitz Bayse
Noysky Projects
Regen Projects
Shulamit Nazarian
Steve Turner
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The LODGE
Various Small Fires
Mobile
Gas Gallery
@gasdotgallery
Elsewhere in CA
CLOACA (San Fransisco)
Curatorial Research Bureau @ the YBCA (San Fransisco)
Et al. (San Francisco)
Ever Gold [Projects] (San Francisco)
fused space (San Francisco)
Gym Standard (San Diego)
Interface Gallery (Oakland)
Jessica Silverman (San Francisco)
Left Field (San Luis Obispo)
Minnesota Street Projects (San Fransisco)
San Diego Art Institute (San Diego)
Verge Center for the Arts (Sacramento)
Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art (San Francisco)
Wolfman Books (Oakland)
Non CA
Artbook @ MoMA PS1 (Long Island City, NY)
Nationale (Portland, OR)
McNally Jackson (New York)
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (Skowhegan, ME)
Small Editions (Brooklyn, NY)
Space 42 (Jacksonville, FL)
Spoonbill & Sugartown (Brooklyn, NY)
Ulises (Philadelphia, PA)
Libraries/ Collections
Bard College, Center for Curatorial Studies Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
CalArts (Valencia, CA)
Center for the Arts, Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Research Library (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Marpha Foundation (Marpha, Nepal)
Maryland Institute College of Art, The Decker Library (Baltimore, MD)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library (New York, NY)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Emerging Leaders of Arts (Santa Barbara, CA)
Northwest Nazarene University (Nampa, ID)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
Point Loma Nazarene University (San Diego, CA)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, John M. Flaxman Library (Chicago, IL)
Scholes Library, NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
Skowhegan Archives (New York, NY)
Sotheby’s Institute of Art (New York, NY)
Telfair Museum (Savannah, GA)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
USC Fisher Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
University of San Diego (San Diego, CA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art, Frances Mulhall Achilles Library (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.    

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.

Originally published in Carla issue 14

 

  1. David Lynch, interviewed by Alex Israel, Purple Magazine, F/W 2011, issue 16, http://purple.fr/magazine/fw-2011-issue-16/david-lynch/.
  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, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/18/arts/design/exploring-david-lynchs-paintings-and-drawings.html.
  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, http://hyperallergic.com/154145/shrapnel-from-the-skies-the-paintings-of-david-lynch/.
  6. Gilles Deleuze, Cinema I: The Movement-Image (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1986), 210.