Bob Dylan created a collection of drawings that were published in a book entitled Drawn Blank in 1994. These expressive works captured Dylan’s chance encounters and observations whilst travelling on tour between 1989 and 1992, creating portraits, land and cityscapes, interiors, nudes and still life were done to “relax and refocus a restless mind”.
Ingrid Mössinger – the curator of the Kunstsammlungen Museum in Chemitz, Germany – came across Drawn Blank during a visit to New York in 2006. Instantly excited she contacted Dylan’s team and was thrilled to learn that Dylan would agree to have his art exhibited in public for the first time. When Dylan first drew the works in this series he had intended to create paintings based upon them. Ingrid Mössinger’s proposed exhibition encouraged him to now do this using watercolour and gouache. “I was fascinated to learn of Ingrid’s interest in my work and it gave me impetus to realize the vision I had many years on” commented Bob Dylan.
These paintings formed the collection entitled The Drawn Blank Series. Painting several versions of the same image using different colours and tones result in a dynamic variety of impressions, feelings and emotions. The choice and skill applying a different colour arrangement to the same original drawing enable Dylan to express his feeling and perception of an idea or a view, continually evoking different feelings and reactions and thus creating evolving works of art.
As Tobias Rüther (Frankfurter Allgemeine Newspaper) who credited Dylan with successfully translating his songs into art, commented: “That which he has done for years on stage, performing new versions of his old songs in order to give a fresh interpretation , he’s now continuing to do on deckle edged paper”.
The National Gallery in Denmark contacted Dylan through his manager in 2008 and agreed to stage his first major exhibition in Copenhagen. Bob Dylan regarded The Drawn Blank Series as a finished project and embarked on a new series of paintings, sparking an intensive period or work and creativity as he produced a series of more than forty paintings in a year.
The Brazil Series is an interesting departure from The Drawn Blank Series and is a product of Dylan’s bravery as an artist. Encourage by critical acclaim notable from luminaries such as John Elderfield (Chief Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art , New York), and Larry Gagosian he received he was emboldened to experiment and expand his oeuvre.
Despite being globally acknowledged as one of the most culturally relevant individual of today, Dylan is at his core an artist, imbued with self-doubt and insecurity – his own biggest critic.