BOB DYLAN ON CANVAS
This suite of new acrylic on canvas paintings by Bob Dylan is, on first sight, startlingly fluent, original and imaginative, but it is soon clear that they are also subtle and deep meaning. The paintings build upon the achievement of Dylan’s The Drawn Blank Series, a larger group of related, but varied gouaches, distinguished by their powerful out-pouring of directness and sheer vitality. The larger canvases of these later paintings are images which stand as single statements offering multiple interpretations. Each has a brilliance and translucency of colour that contributes greatly to the emotional charge of the subject, in much the same way vigorous brushwork brings a particular velocity to the drawing and construction of the compositions. There is a telling relationship between fluid washes of thinner acrylic, the tough and often angular brush drawing and the muscular broadness of certain demonstrative flurries of brushwork. The pacey drawing of, for example, Motel Pool has a spiky, positive, oriental quality, of a kind reminiscent of a phase in the drawings of Vincent Van Gogh. There are many echoes of the Masters of Modern painting; Dufy, Matisse, or especially Milton Avery, a truly great American artist with a similar lightness of touch and profound sensitivity to subject matter. The colour chords are largely naturalistic, although sometimes enhanced; a beautiful, radiant blue sky or vivid green grass; a pair of lascivious, cobalt-haired maidens. The subjects are wide-ranging; exuberant, voluminous flowers splayed across the rectangle, above brick walls. Sky, sea, mysterious interiors, the twisted, tortuous staircase of St. Remy, rooms with the aura of tragedy; anonymous, voluptuous women, one, in back view, whose dress strap slips provocatively from her shoulder.
What can be the meaning of these diverse images? They are clearly of the same family and from the same urgent hand, but each has embedded in the complexity of its colour and arrangement, visual meaning which, like all
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