The Ratskeller at the Cercle Cité on Place d'Armes in Luxembourg city centre is set to host an exhibition entitled "Small Stories by David Lynch" from 10 February to 16 April 2023, linked with the Luxembourg City Film Festival which runs from 2-12 March 2023.
David Lynch, while being a renowned filmmaker, has always considered himself a painter. Working with a wide range of media throughout his career, such as drawing, painting, sculpture, lithography and even music and design, his rich and incomparable artistic work is less known to the public than his cinematographic work.
The series of photographs Small Stories presents part of his more confidential work, made up of fifty-five black and white shots. These little stories are exhibited at the Ratskeller in a setting of flickering light, sound and red curtains that immerse the visitor in the fantastic world of Lynch. In these partly disturbing images, populated by shapes, figures and ghosts, with haunted rooms, dreamlike landscapes, familiar and at the same time diverted spaces, the public finds the recurring motifs of the artistic and cinematographic universe of David Lynch.
Heads, a series-within-a-series group of portraits, places the audience in a face-to-face situation, sometimes interacting or smiling evocatively, sometimes remaining abstract or mirroring the thoughts and fears of each and everyone. Later in the exhibition, interior and exterior scenes alternate, reversing references to interior and exterior life, playing with the notions of the conscious and the subconscious.
Are these Memories of Childhood memories of childhood, of a world in which “everything was perfect, peaceful and good [?] It drove him a little crazy”. Memories that, like the images on display, are marked by the light and dark of 1950s suburbia or scary big cities, of a loving family or violence behind closed and unknown doors. These images are also fantasies, evoking Lynch's "ardent desire for something out of the ordinary to happen".
In colours reminiscent of ashes, these stories look behind the scenes of everyday life, denying the American dream, giving the photograph a cinematic quality.
The photographs are accompanied by weekly screenings of David Lynch's first short films. Six Men Getting Sick, his very first film, shot in 1967 after seeing a movement in the paint, similar to a small gust of wind, describes the passage from painting and sculpture to the animated image. If this work reveals the multimedia potential developed later in Lynch's multidisciplinary artistic work, it also constitutes his first introduction to the cinematographic medium, while he was studying at the Art Academy of Philadelphia.
The 1968 film The Alphabet stars his first wife Peggy Reavey and is based on a nervous alphabet nightmare his niece had.
1970's The Grandmother was filmed on the third floor of her house, transformed into a film set. The film, which evokes the themes of nature, hints at the unstoppable pain and decay hidden beneath the surface. Family and home are further thematised in the plot which tells the story of a boy who, punished by his parents, plants a tree from which emerges a loving grandmother.
By including these very first cinematographic works, the exhibition Small Stories by David Lynch, presented as part of the Luxembourg City Film Festival 2023, thematizes Lynch's initiation into cinema at a time when he was mainly working as an artist, while showing his artistic practice whereas today he is a recognized filmmaker.
David Lynch's strength undeniably lies in his play with ambiguity and his understanding of an underlying duality that is an integral part of life. Driven by curiosity and imagination, his artistic work as well as his films scrutinise the everyday, the common, the ugly, the hidden, the distressing. They lift the curtain to reveal the strange and the magical, the bizarre and the gloomy; and if his works testify to a deep knowledge of the history of art, they never refer to it directly. Lynch succeeds in constructing his own narrative and inviting us into his singular dream world.
The exhibition is open from 11:00 - 19:00 daily. Free guided tours are run regularly on Saturdays, with those in English as follows:
- 11 Feb @ 15:00
- 4 Mar @ 15:00
- 25 Mar @ 15:00
Also, on Saturday 15 Apr at 15:00, Anastasia Chaguidouline will also give a guided tour in English. No prior registration is required, but they are subject to availability.
The vernissage will take place on 9 February at 18:00. No prior registration is necessary.
A number of short films (Six Men Getting Sick (4 mins) / The Alphabet (4 mins) / The Grandmother (34 mins)) will be screened in the exhibition space, as follows:
- 16 Feb @ 18:00 - 18:45
- 23 Feb @ 18:00 - 18:45
- 2 Mar @ 18:00 - 18:45
- 9 Mar @ 18:00 - 18:45
- 16 Mar @ 18:00 - 18:45
- 23 Mar @ 18:00 - 18:45
- 30 Mar @ 18:00 - 18:45
- 6 Apr @ 18:00 - 18:45
- 13 Apr @ 18:00 - 18:45