art, bob dylan

Drawn Blank

Bob Dylan's "Statue of Liberty"

Bob Dylan's "Statue of Liberty"

I see that the Castle Galleries in Birmingham’s Mailbox plays host tomorrow to a collection from the Drawn Blank Series 2009, consisting of artwork by Bob Dylan. First published in 1994, the Drawn Blank Series has recently enjoyed gallery display in Germany and at the Halcyon in London, and a ‘brand new selection’ is doing the rounds the world over this summer. For sketches committed to paper whilst on tour in the late 80s and early 90s, and which were drawn as Dylan has said ‘to relax and refocus a restless mind’, they’ve had a long shelf life.

As with the painted works of Paul McCartney, you’re left with the strong sense that these are daubings given such publicity only because of who did the daubing – Dylan’s vaguely post-expressionist style is hardly cutting edge. They’re interesting, though, in their focus on the everyday – these are very much images from tour, snatched moments of intimacy and langurous stretches of anonymity. There’s an emptiness to the works that is deliberate and not just inherent, and a playfulness and an emphasis on ‘ordinary’ life which dovetails with Dylan’s better art; still, to talk them up too much is to get over-excited. They’re fun to look at, but a world tour seems over-kill.

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