This week, we dive into Bob Dylan’s Mondo Scripto, the new exhibition of Dylan’s artworks currently on show at London’s Halcyon Gallery. In an exclusive interview, Laura speaks with Paul Green, the gallery’s president and founder, about the exhibition, the history of Green’s working relationship with Dylan, and the importance of Bob Dylan as a post-war American visual artist. Green also shares some interesting news about a huge Dylan career retrospective coming to China next year.
Mondo Scripto features Dylan’s handwritten lyrics to roughly 60 of his most popular songs, accompanied by graphite drawings that serve as illustrations to the words. Some pieces appear in Dylan’s own ironwork frames. Though Dylan has worked as a visual artist for much of his career, and we’ve seen his paintings appear on album covers such as Self Portrait, Planet Waves, and The Band’s Music From Big Pink, Mondo Scripto is the first exhibition in which the words of Dylan’s songs and his visual art appear in direct juxtaposition. However, as is often the case with Dylan, things are not what they seem, and mysteries abound.
The interaction of writing and visual art has long been a hallmark of Dylan’s work, from the vivid imagery of his 60s songs, to his deep associations with films and filmmaking throughout the decades. Dylan has also credited the painting lessons he took with Norman Raeben as the source for a new-found writing style which he was able to explore on his seminal 1975 album Blood On The Tracks.
The Mondo Scripto exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery runs through to the end of November and is free of charge. If you can’t make it to New Bond Street to see the exhibition yourself, it’s worth buying the exhibition catalogue, which includes reproductions of each piece. However, since the exhibition includes multiple versions of certain songs, there are some variations that aren’t found in the catalogue. That is the case with “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”, which Laura talks about in the episode. If you’re interested in reading the lyrics to that version in full, you can look at them here (and here’s the drawing that goes along with it).
“Tangled Up In Blue” is another song that Dylan has revisited multiple times over the years. In the episode, Laura plays a version with re-written lyrics from the 1984 concert album Real Live, but if you’re interested in reading the version of the lyrics included in Mondo Scripto, you can see them here (1, 2, 3). For better quality images and more information, please see the exhibition catalogue, or go and see Mondo Scripto for yourself at the Halcyon Gallery in London.
Here’s the link to the article by Scott Warmuth on Dylan’s exhibition, The Beaten Path.
You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
Shelter From The Storm (live at the Roseland Ballroom, NYC, 19 October 1994)
Tangled Up In Blue (Real Live)