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David Lynch | A Categorical Forecast, a Parting of the Cumulus and Cumulonimbus

Via Issue 184, The Tempest Issue, out now!

Written by

Nate Rynaski

Photographed by

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Styled by

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David Lynch. “Airplane in Sky / Ant (Detail)” (2022). Mixed media. 48" x 48" x 3". © David Lynch, courtesy Pace Gallery.

David Lynch has been something of a rogue meteorologist since 2005. What began as periodic calls into Joe Escalante’s morning show on Los Angeles’ INDIE 103.1, the artist and filmmaker’s Weather Report has amassed a new life on YouTube in recent years. “Good Morning. It’s November 4, 2022, and if you… can… believe it, it’s a Friday once again,” Lynch excitedly proclaims on the November morning that his debut solo art exhibition with Pace Gallery in NYC opens. 

The exhibition in question, Big Bongo Night, features mixed media sculptures, paintings, and work on paper [and coincides with I Like to See My Sheep at Sperone Westwater in New York, a show of additional works on paper]. Lynch continues, “Here in LA, a sunny morning, looks like. Very still right now. 46° Fahrenheit, around 8 Celcius. Today, I was thinking about The Paris Sisters.” And then Lynch concludes, like usual, with a salute, “Everyone, have a great day.”

Given inclement weather patterns at the time of assembling this, The Tempest Issue, which is anchored by Mr. Lynch’s Art Cover creation, we spoke only briefly with the gentleman (see his Contributors’ statement on page 36). Instead, taking a cue from Lynch’s reminiscing on The Paris Sisters—the 1960s San Francisco-based girl group—on the morning of Big Bongo Night’s opening, we determined to implore an outsider group of thunder-makers (that of the rolling, humble, and decadent assort) to remark on a selection of works featured in the show. Below are their respective takes. All the more reason for you to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather.

David Lynch. “Head on Hill with Cloud and Airplane” (2021). Mixed media. 40” x 40”. © David Lynch, courtesy Pace Gallery.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

My eyes immediately went to the object laying on top of its shadow. It feels like it is peering over a misty vista at a mountain top that is playing peekaboo in the clouds, and they are both watching a plane emerge. I wonder if the plane just dropped this object off or if the object is longing to be retrieved? I wonder if there is any connection between the objects or if they all just coexist in this moment together without any awareness of each other. And then I zoom out a little and realize I am also peering through an opening at these objects and it brings my awareness to the border—there is a room also present in this image. I feel five perspectives at once.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith is an American composer, performer, and producer. Primarily using Buchla modular synthesizers, Aurelia Smith received critical acclaim for her album Ears (2016) and The Kid (2017). She has collaborated with musicians like Suzanne Ciani (Sunergy) and Emile Mosseri (I Could Be Your Dog (Prequel)), and released her newest record Let’s Turn It Into Sound on Ghostly International in 2022, for which she has recently begun her tour.

David Lynch. “Goodbye” (2022). Mixed media. 24” x 32” x 2 1/4”. © David Lynch, courtesy Pace Gallery.

Eli Keszler

Who is saying goodbye and at whom are they pointing the gun? Those are my first questions. The painting depicts three people (possibly two) or depending on your mood one—some sort of multi-angled vision of the same man. This version appeals to me, viewing the subject as a kind of Jungian Chimera or spiritual hydra. Three motivations, three ways of operating, three sides of the same man, the devil and a possessed angel on his flanks. Or maybe it’s one man, his shadow, and his victim saying goodbye to their earthly life? This painting illustrates one of the major Leitmotifs of Lynch’s phrased as a question: who are they or alternatively do they know who they are? 

This work is particularly cinematic. It looks like a still from a silver screen film noir that has been melted and rotted into a canvas. The metallic gun remains vivid and takes on dimensionality while the strange egg man lurks in the back. The Hollywood star deteriorated by time, psychosis, and vanity.

Lynch’s work ranging from his masterpiece Mulholland Drive all the way through his music manages to balance this ambiguity and lack of clarity with clear cultural tropes. He maintains this abstraction while having transparent emotion and narrative arcs that never unfold like you imagine. He cloaks all of his references within a cloud of darkness and abstract light. This painting is packed full of ambiguity, violence, and humor that melds together into something brutally dark and fundamentally American in just a few illustrative brush strokes. It’s reminiscent in some ways of the satirical Americana that Philip Guston achieved in his later works, or some underworld Archie comic strip. 

Compared to Guston’s political landscapes, Lynch’s Americana is beautiful and transcendent and at the same time baked in horror, blood, surreality, and sexual violence—it’s a smile with a cracked tooth and rotting teeth, or like in this painting, a Hollywood murder sequence stuck in some sort of tormenting feedback loop that simply won’t stop.

Eli Keszler is a New York-based artist, composer, and percussionist. Keszler has released critically acclaimed solo records, his latest being ICONS+ (LuckyMe) in 2021. He has composed original scores for Lofty Nathan’s Harka (2022), which won best actor at Cannes and Dasha Nekrasova’s The Scary of Sixty-First (2021) which won GWFF Best First Feature Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, as well as contributed to Daniel Lopatin’s score for Uncut Gems (2019). Keszler presented a new multimedia collaboration Sync with visual artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer on October 20th, performing amongst the Lozano-Hemmer’s exhibition, Common Measures, activating Pulse Topology with his percussive performance.

David Lynch. “White Table Top Lamp” (2022). Cold-rolled steel, plaster, resin. 13 ¾” x 6" x 6". © David Lynch, courtesy Pace Gallery.

Braxe + Falcon

The Color and Shape of this object instantly remind me of the Fairy Chimneys rock formation near Göreme, in Cappadocia, Turkey. Produced by uplift and erosion through thousands and thousands of years, these formations unveil an obvious pattern, as if they’re sculpted on purpose. It’s moving to see that both nature and the human spirit can shape similar forms during their respective creative processes. I can easily imagine this object in my bedroom, lit up at night while I travel through time in my dreams.

Alain and Stéphane Quême, aka Alan Braxe and DJ Falcon, are two artists who can be credited as the progenitors of the French Touch, a subgenre of house music that emerged from Paris in the mid 90s, who come together for their first-ever collaborative project. Braxe + Falcon’s Step By Step EP (Smugglers Way), out this year.

David Lynch. “Good Times On Our Street” (2022). Mixed media on wood. 50" x 60" x 2 ½”. © David Lynch, courtesy Pace Gallery.

Ethel Cain

When I was a kid, probably around 8 or 9, my teenage cousin showed me a video on YouTube of some Eminem song he really liked. There was a still image for the background that never changed during the song. It was a cartoon drawing of Pooh Bear lying in a pool of blood surrounded by all of his friends staring at his lifeless body, specifically Tigger who was holding a bloody baseball bat. I remember that being one of my first encounters with something violent that made me feel nervous. This picture made me think of that moment immediately. Like if they gave Pooh a gun and put him in a room with one of those dudes from Team Fortress 2. I feel like Pooh is secretly capable of great violence, you know? He lives under a tree, and he’s a bear, after all. ‘Eat shit, dickhead!’

Ethel Cain, also known as Hayden Anhedönia, is the musician behind the critically acclaimed debut Preacher’s Daughter (2022). The daughter of a preacher, Ethel Cain first caught fire with her 2021 debut EP, Inbred, which she wrote, produced, and mixed from the basement of a church in Indiana. Cain has begun her first ever headline tour throughout the United States and Canada, opened for Florence + The Machine for the Denver show of the Freezer Bride Tour. 

David Lynch. “He Went and He Did Do That Thing” (n.d.). Mixed media on paper. 22 ¼” x 30". © David Lynch, courtesy Pace Gallery.

Eugene Hütz (Gogol Bordello)

It acts as a cryptic chameleon that will keep playing with your mind forever with numerous scenarios. The little story will keep shapeshifting from something life-affirming to totally fatalistic, but it will never arrive to the ground zero. Coming from the Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks mastermind, it’s self-suggesting to be hypnotically creepazoid, but one can’t ever be sure if it really is…One thing for sure, it radiates forever unresolved tension. Lines crossed out and restored…Diligence, commitment, perseverance? Could be a good thing…but then, the guy’s head is not even attached. The Master of Cryptic Mystery has done it again. Sherlock Holmes would smoke a hundred pipes over it, Max Ernst and Hans Bellmer would toast with pleasure.

Gogol Bordello is a multicultural band that combines Eastern, Western and Latin traditions, sharing stages with System of a Down and Primus, going on Warped Tour alongside Rancid and Dropkick Murphys, dueting with Regina Spektor, appearing films such as Liev Schreiber’s Everything Is Illuminated with Elijah Wood or Filth and Wisdom with Madonna. Gogol Bordello will be the subject of a new documentary currently in the making adding to the existing Gogol Bordello Non-Stop and The Pied Piper of Hutzovina. Their new album Solidaritine is out now, with New Year’s Eve shows in Brooklyn, NY and Philadelphia, PA.

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