Bob Dylan the painter is not a title heard often when speaking of the musician. Although he has painted for many years, Dylan has just started to share his paintings with the world about seven years ago. He has always felt that his art stands alone from his music, so viewers should not expect to see imagery that bring his songs to mind. Starting on May 8, 2014, The Drawn Blank Series will be on display at the Ross Art Group in New York; including the pieces titled Still Life With Peaches, Side Track and Train Tracks. The series is mostly painted with acrylic on canvas, watercolor on paper, or has prints of Dylan’s sketches enhanced with paint. The exhibit features about 50 works, all based on sketches in charcoal Dylan made while touring between the years 1989 and 1992. Prices for the pieces range from $2,500 to $400,000. The exhibit was first on display in Germany and the U.K. and garnered much attention overseas. The exhibit will mark the first of Dylan’s work in the U.S. and will be on display until May 30, 2014.
The works are simple pieces with many vibrant colors. Although many critics did not praise the exhibit, some mentioned the paintings have an Impressionist-type style. Train tracks seem to be a common image among the paintings, such as the similar paintings Side Track and Train Tracks. Some feel it represents Bob Dylan’s many years on the road while touring. The tracks could represent a journey through both his personal and professional life; an endless track signifying that his journey isn’t over. Other paintings are of different people Dylan has encountered on the road, whether a hobo at a train station platform, or a lonely woman in a bar. Dylan’s artwork consists of many simple lines and a vague attention to detail which implies the need to sketch something quickly, before it disappears from the mind’s eye. There is an urgency to his painting, as if he was afraid to forget what he wanted to show before he was finished.
Bob Dylan is best known of course, for his music. Memorable tunes such as Blowin’ In The Wind, Lay, Lady, Lay, and Mr. Tambourine Man are ingrained in history; voicing the need for change and the emotion of unresolved turmoil in tumultuous times. Dylan’s music rallied people with common values and wishes together and gave them something to motivate and help them find encouragement. He wanted to show others that someone understood – and felt the same – and wanted to join in inciting the changes needed. Bob Dylan as the painter is only an enhancement to Bob Dylan the singer. His lyrics create similar feelings as those seen in his paintings; open to interpretation, but feeling a common bond with each viewer/listener. Each person, even if they have a different view, can see the same result. Perhaps Bob Dylan the painter can do the same. By helping others to see through his paintings that someone observed, someone saw, and someone understood.
The Ross Art Group is at 532 Madison Ave at 54th Street in New York. The exhibit of Bob Dylan’s paintings will be on display from May 8 to May 30.
by Sharon A. Daws