Blockbuster gallery openings in Brisbane are like…well, I guess they’re like big gallery opening nights everywhere – glamorous events chock full of socialites and celebrities of varying importance, all there for the free booze and the exposure in the weekend’s social pages, and to provide a bit of depth to one’s public profile by ‘supporting the arts’. For the most part I find them tedious, all air kissing and posturing, with conversations that start with “oh, you must meet so-and-so” or “babe, you’ve just got to introduce me to what’s-his-name.” Puke.
Which is why the opening night of David Lynch: Between Two Worlds at GoMA on Friday night was such a refreshing change. A conscious decision on the part of QAGOMA to make the occasion a strictly ticketed affair meant that the usual pack of free ticket VIPs and sycophants weren’t there (even the QAGOMA staff I know had to purchase their tickets), ensuring a room of people who genuinely were there in support of the arts. Or they were just hoping to meet David Lynch and throw him a film script. Either way, it felt like Brisbane had matured a little. And when the great man himself appeared just before LA chanteuse Chrysta Bell’s set, the lift in energy was palpable. Not that he was among the rabble of course; he overlooked it all from the top of a staircase, comfy in a leather armchair and surrounded by minders. It was, dare I say it, all very David Lynch. But I can’t deny getting a little thrill to look up and see that iconic silver hairdo shimmering above us.
As for the art at the centre of this shindig – it’s weird and wacky and not entirely comprehensible, but if you were expecting anything else from the student art of David Lynch, you’d have to be nuts. And within the collection are some great pieces – his pastel drawings are beautiful and eerie, his series of matchbox drawings deceptive in their intensity, and a wall of his photography is simply beautiful. I could live without his paintings I suppose, but en masse the works give a really good insight into the experimentation and influences that were required to create the film director we know Lynch as now and, given the nightmarish content of most of the work, it’s surprisingly fun to walk around. The breadth of his art practice is wide and varied, and the 200 odd works included run the gamut. It will need a second visit without the opening night excitement to fully take it in.
The exhibition is extremely well curated, which is a relief given curator Jose Da Silva is a friend – so kudos to him for avoiding a potentially awkward social situation for me by ensuring I wasn’t lying when I told him I loved it at the end of the night! Truly though, the curation is good, right down to the presentation of background information which balances perfectly an audience that will either know absolutely everything or nothing at all about David Lynch’s career. There is an assumption made by the memorabila on view that you already knows Lynch’s relevance in pop culture, but absolutely no judgement if you don’t.
I don’t need to predict that Between Two Worlds will be a success for QAGOMA; it has already broken previous records for ticket presales, and curiosity alone will get people through the doors who may not otherwise bother. I will however predict this show will cement Jose Da Silva’s career. The experience of taking what Jose described in a facebook post last week as “a passing thought in San Francisco in 2013”, and turning it into a “reality at the beginning of 2014” when he approached Lynch directly with his exhibition proposal, should give him the confidence to push ever further the sometimes limiting boundaries that exist in the Australian art scene. Personally, I’m already wondering what’s next.
For images from the night, take a look at Cultural Flanerie on Instagram here.
David Lynch: Between Two Worlds
Until 7 June 2015, Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) Brisbane
For tickets and information on public programs, go here.