David Lynch is a very strange man. That’s never been said before, has it? Probably not. Anyway. I recently had the delightful (if disorienting) pleasure of seeing his exhibition of paintings, short films and ephemera at Paris’ Foundation Cartier. And my impression that he is a very strange man has not been budged one whit.
Lynch certainly subscribes to André Breton’s famous dictum from Nadja that “beauty will be convulsive or not at all.” His work consistently aims for the quease-inducing, but nevertheless gripping, fine line between the sacred and the profane, the ecstatic and the horrifying. There’s often a poetic quality to even the most nightmarish of his visions and, as such, it’s hard to dismiss even his most seemingly tossed-off or ridiculous ramblings because there’s usually a kernel of emotional truth there. (Or, at least, so I kept telling myself through the entire twisty last half of the sublimely ridiculous, often terrifying Mulholland Drive. Note to self: going to Lynch’s films alone is a BAD IDEA.)
The Fondation Cartier show certainly vacillated between the beautiful, the brilliant, and the resoultely half-baked. But, between the puerile, violent and scatologically-fixated Dumbland films, the viscerally ugly large-scale paintings (thick with impasto and decaying organic material), the eerie black-and-white shots of half-forgotten industrial wastelands and a series of luridly Technicolor pin-up shots, the show pretty much added up to a catalogue of all of Lynch’s varied obsessions. (All this and you could buy a pound of his signature coffee in the gift shop! I wonder if it makes you hallucinate the Red Room and talk backwards if you drink enough of it?)
The show included a surround-sound soundtrack, overseen by Lynch, to enhance that peculiarly Lynchian feeling of unease. Creaks, groans, and random bumps-in-the-night surrounded us as we went through gallery after gallery, giving each room a disquieting funhouse-after-dark quality. I would expect nothing less from the proven master of unease.
While in Paris I made a pilgrimage to painfully pretentious boutique Colette to look for music. On a whim I picked up Klima’s debut album. The alter-ego of French singer Angèle David-Guillou, aided and abetted by members of Piano Magic and Laika, the album is a playful, at times haunting song-set that calls to mind the wistful retro-futurism of Björk and the collagist temperament of singer-songwriters like Edison Woods. Seen in an, ahem, Lynchian context, you can almost picture her singing out at the empty roadhouse on a stormy night, her tempest-tossed voice carrying out over the treetops and the empty, forlorn road, and the traffic lights swaying in langorous time to the music.
Fondation Cartier | David Lynch | Peacefrog [Klima's label]
David Lynch“The Air Is On Fire” (Track 7 of Sound Installation) 
Klima, “Why Does Everything Have To End?” 
PHOTO BY ANDREA | PARIS, MAY 2007