“I’ve done sketching most of my life. In notebooks, on napkins, on rough paper or cardboard, plates and coffee pots and just basically when there’s something to look at,” says legendary cultural icon Bob Dylan.
While he has drawn and painted for more than 40 years, it wasn’t until 2007 that his works were first exhibited publicly in “The Drawn Blank” series. Based on drawings he made while traveling between 1989 and 1992, Dylan’s suite of mixed media paintings expresses his experiences and recollections of those images. They depict genre scenes of casual people, moments, and spaces like a tree-lined park, small town streets, railroad tracks, and canals. They do not document his life as a musician, but rather catalog life outside of concerts, rehearsals, and tour buses.
Man on a Bridge presents the viewer with a man in a pea coat, standing shyly on a highway overpass. Over his shoulder, suggestively antiquated architecture hints that this scene could be a canal in fin de siècle Europe or a highway in the contemporary American Northeast. Both that painting and Dylan’s Train Tracks use a similar compositional device and palette: each employs one-point perspective to pull the viewer into the receding background of moody colors that portray a space and time that is archetypal, rather than wholly documentary. And the early modernist methods he favors make his scenes of rural American culture unexpectedly elegant.
While he cites Max Beckmann and Paul Gauguin as influences, Dylan also employs bright colors that recall Fauvism and Salvador Dalí’s Surrealism.