In a back courtyard off the Rue du Montparnasse in Paris is hidden the unique workshop of Item Editions, where artists from around the world produce lithographs on Solnhofen stone slabs. An artistic tradition is carried on here with the help of historical presses that have printed such artists as Picasso, Matisse, and Miró. David Lynch —filmmaker, photographer, and, last but not least, painter—was captivated by this place and its history. “I fell in love,” as he himself says. After initial attempts with zinc plates and prints in black and red, he continues to work there. The artist has since created large-format black-and-white lithographs in keeping with his typical themes: loneliness, love, eroticism, dreams, and death.
Lynch first trained as a painter, and although he is now better known as a filmmaker, he has continued to paint. Lynch has stated that “all my paintings are organic, violent comedies. They have to be violently done and primitive and crude, and to achieve that I try to let nature paint more than I paint.” Many of his works are very dark in colour, and Lynch has said this is because
I wouldn’t know what to do with [colour]. Colour to me is too real. It’s limiting. It doesn’t allow too much of a dream. The more you throw black into a colour, the more dreamy it gets … Black has depth. It’s like a little egress; you can go into it, and because it keeps on continuing to be dark, the mind kicks in, and a lot of things that are going on in there become manifest. And you start seeing what you’re afraid of. You start seeing what you love, and it becomes like a dream. Many of his works also contain letters and words added to the painting. He explains: The words in the paintings are sometimes important to make you start thinking about what else is going on in there. And a lot of times, the words excite me as shapes, and something’ll grow out of that. I used to cut these little letters out and glue them on. They just look good all lined up like teeth … sometimes they become the title of the painting.