When Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, a tremendous fuss was made – both by those exalting the decision, and others who were left unimpressed that a mere singer-songwriter had been elevated to such an esteemed literary pantheon.
It was also no big shock that Dylan himself stayed aloof from the subsequent shouting match that took place in the papers and on social media; he’s always let his words and music do the talking. Now, with a timing that comes loaded with a hilarious perversity I’m sure he’d relish, one of Dylan’s first major artistic expressions following the Nobel award involves nothing but pictures.
Dylan’s output as a visual artist has been a sideshow to his music ever since he became a pupil of the painter Norman Raeben back in the 1970s, and The Beaten Path, his new show at the Halcyon Gallery, in Mayfair, sees him very much on home turf.
One of his major lyrical and musical preoccupations (particularly in recent years) has been the America of yesteryear, and although these paintings of prairies, cityscapes and motels could well be contemporary scenes, they have an undeniable air of nostalgia about them.
For committed Dylan fans like myself, there is a thrill to seeing his creations up close, but even those who don’t spend their free time searching out different live versions of Like a Rolling Stone on YouTube will find enjoyment in this sizeable show.
A total of three floors of the Halcyon are devoted to the exhibition. The fact that the gallery is loaded with enthusiastic salespeople gives the unfortunate impression that money, rather than artistic endeavour, is the main motivation here, but some of the paintings on display are undeniably impressive.
How to continue reading…
This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week
The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection