Review: David Lynch’s paintings reveal insecurities of adolescence and maligned misfits


David Lynch’s 11 works at Kayne Griffin Corcoran give intimate form to the insecurities of adolescence, especially as they echo in the memories of adults who may not have outgrown them.

Yet not a whiff of self-pity can be sniffed in Lynch’s wickedly endearing images. That, along with their introspective nature, makes them stick out like sore thumbs in today’s culture of revenge, in which powerful men pretend to be victims, all the better to shore up their privilege and solidify their dominion over anyone who rubs their thin skin the wrong way.

Lynch’s pictures of individuals falling short and failing miserably never suggest that the trials and tribulations of growing up and being maligned as a misfit are anything other than ordinary — certainly not experiences that justify bitterness and resentment and fuel the flames of lifelong anger.

Bad things happen in Lynch’s shallow-relief sculptures: pets die, children cry, toys break, teens get ridiculed, parents are unavailable and no one, not a single soul, understands — much less cares.

But the doll-size inhabitants of Lynch’s dystopian dioramas seem to deal with everything well enough. A sense of unflappable equanimity spills from his forlorn men, women and children, their handmade clothing, ceramic limbs and mutant faces saying, in no uncertain terms, “Life is tough. Things go wrong. Get used to it.”

That’s the same message delivered by the pictures Norman Rockwell painted for the covers of the Saturday Evening Post.

Both Rockwell and Lynch home in on what it means to live in a world in which things don’t always turn out as you want them to — and circumstance are more difficult than you imagined. Both also believe that that’s not the end of the world.

For Rockwell, redemption would be found in our ability to tolerate one another’s differences. For Lynch, that starts with ourselves — learning to live with our shortcomings, not blaming others for them, and, best of all, sharing such stories with strangers and loved ones and anyone else able to laugh at themselves.

Kayne Griffin Corcoran, 1201 S. La Brea Ave., (310) 586-6886, through Nov. 3. Closed Sundays and