The Halcyon Gallery, 144-146 New Bond Street, London
This show will probably be old news to the more on-the-ball Bob-cats among us, but I confess I might never have heard about it if I hadn’t seen mentions on Penn’s (of Penn and Teller) Twitter feed. Consider this my alert for anyone else who would regret missing it if I hadn’t written about it on here. You’re welcome.
This exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery gathers several dozen hand-written Bob Dylan Lyrics, each of them accompanied by a pencil sketch by Bob, along with several of his acrylic on-the-road paintings and, this came as a surprise to me, some examples of his ironwork. The selection is broadly greatest hits, and I don’t think there are any lyrics here which will be unfamiliar to the casual admirer. The more trainspotterish fan will delight in reading every word and spotting subtle changes to lines, the rest of us can just enjoy the art and juxtapositions of word and image.
Regarding the art, there is no doubt Dylan can draw. Time and again I found myself enjoying the fold in a piece of clothing or the flow of a limb into a body while forgetting the celebrity status of the artist. Regarding the combination of image and text, well … The introduction to the show calls them ‘illuminating’, but I found most either baffling or, more often, extremely literal. This Wheel’s on Fire is illustrated with a drawing of a cartwheel on fire, Things Have Changed has a man with a woman in a wheelbarrow, literally ‘wheeling her off down the street’.
The ironwork takes the form of found materials (tools, large cogs and so on) re-worked into garden furniture, gates or fences. It’s fairly two dimensional and I would guess Bob laid the items flat on the ground before fixing them together. I rather liked them; before I realised that they were his work I assumed the gates and barriers I saw were part of the permanent decoration of the gallery, and they didn’t look entirely out of place as such.
The exhibition runs till 30 November.
People taking shelter from the storm as the London skies unloaded a deluge on the Mayfair streets, a few fans in Bob Dylan t-shirts, and doubtless some well heeled art collectors. Anyone who was really taken with the exhibition could drop in at their other gallery across the road and buy limited edition prints for a few thousand quid (different images to the show of original across New Bond Street).
It made me think..
We all know Bob as a songwriter, singer and musician. Many regard him as a poet (I’m less sure on that) and Chronicles showed us that he can be an evocative prose writer. Some will know his acrylic paintings, and perhaps knew of his pencil drawings. There can’t be many who were familiar with his metal work. Time and again Dylan surprises us with the depth and breadth of his creativity. I might not have visited this show if it hadn’t been out of interest in Bob, and that would have been my loss.