David Lynch "The air is on Fire"
April 11 - July 12, 2009
The exhibition was holding in the context of the Moscow International Festival: Fashion and Style in Photography 2009, with the assistance of the Fondation Cartier, Paris.
Presented by the Ekaterina Cultural Foundation and the Moscow House of Photography "The Air is on Fire" was the largest exhibition devoted to David Lynch as a visual artist. Originally exhibited at the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain in Paris in 2007, it explored the multiple facets of his work, bringing together paintings, photographs, drawings, lithographs, experimental films, and sound created since 1960. This exhibition offered an exceptional occasion to discover and to revisit his universe.
Born in Montana in 1946, David Lynch spent most of his childhood sketching and painting. In 1965, he went on to study fine arts at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where his passion for the moving image was stirred: working alone in his studio, he saw a soft wind gently move the objects stuck onto the canvas before him, and six months later, his first experimental short film was completed. This gave birth to one of the world’s most treasured filmmakers, and the youngest director to receive the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion for lifetime achievement. Since his years in Philadelphia, David Lynch has always devoted a considerable part of his creative activity to the visual arts, actively continuing painting, photographing, and drawing, and even broadening his artistic practice to include animation, music composition, and sound production.
The Fondation Cartier has organized the most complete exhibition of his work to date, and a look "behind the scenes" at David Lynch's artistic expression, revealing this essential though little-known aspect of his creativity. The show was born in 2006 from David Lynch’s studio full of paintings, cupboards of black archival boxes, and shelves of labeled binders containing countless drawings. This well conserved collection of his own art dated back to the artist’s high school days and has primarily remained out of sight. Many of the works united here are now part of the Fondation Cartier’s collection; they were accompanied by pervading sounds conceived by the artist himself, creating a highly personal show that offered the viewer a unique opportunity to interact with a new side of Lynch's vision in an environment that remains all his own.
David Lynch's paintings, photographs, and drawings reconstruct his childhood experiences, his adolescent fantasies, and his adult preoccupations. The recurring theme of the home, complete with its potentially sinister underbelly, is represented in dark paintings complete with cryptic messages and organic textures. Lynch's outrageous sense of humor, however, is also present in the difficult issues his paintings tackle, echoing the cutting comic relief found in even his most disconcerting film work. His photography also captures various moods and atmospheres, from sensual and dreamy to somber and troubling. Photographs of industrial areas treat sewage pipes, bridges, and deserted factories with care, filling remote landscapes with sensitivity and importance. The 2004 Distorted Nudes series consists of taboo black and white erotic photographs, dating from 1840 to 1940, that the artist digitally reworked to form creatures that remain human but adopt surreal forms and expressions. David Lynch's sketches and drawings compose the most intimate aspect of his creations. On view for the very first time in Russia, these over 500 works, kept since childhood and regularly consulted by Lynch for inspiration, offered an exceptional and uncensored glimpse into his creative process; they captured the artist’s inspirations most clearly, exposing the common threads that run through his entire oeuvre.
The filmmaker's very first short films were screened in a small theatre designed by the artist and inspired by the EKATERINA Foundation space. The Air is on Fire had been updated especially for this venue to include a series of lithographs by David Lynch that had never been seen before. Created in Paris on several trips since 2007, these works recycled imagery from previous pieces while exploring the medium as a new visual language.
An artist through and through, David Lynch had personally collaborated with the Fondation Cartier throughout the preparation of the exhibition at the EKATERINA Foundation, rendering it a "total work of art" that embraced not only the multiple facets of his visual art production but also his passion for sound. It offered a unique insight into his creative process and invited viewers to delve deep into a fascinating and dizzying creative universe.
Born in 1946 in Missoula, Montana
1967 Six Men Getting Sick, 4’ (45’’ film loops), 16 mm, color projection on sculpted screen
1968 The Alphabet, 3’45’’, 16 mm, color
1970 The Grandmother, 34’, 16 mm, color
1973 The Amputee, 2 versions: 4’52’’ and 4’05’’, video, black and white
1977 Eraserhead, 85’, 35 mm, black and white 1980
The Elephant Man, 118’, 35 mm, black and white
1984 Dune, 131’, 35 mm, color
1986 Blue Velvet, 121’, 35 mm, color
1990 Wild at Heart, 125’, 35 mm, color
1992 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, 129’, 35 mm, color
1995 Premonitions Following an Evil Deed in Lumiere et Compagnie, 55’’, 35 mm, black and white
1997 Lost Highway, 134’, 35 mm, color
1999 The Straight Story, 112’, 35 mm, color
2001 Mulholland Drive, 141’, 35 mm, color
2006 INLAND EMPIRE, 179’, digital video, color