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Bob Dylan explains why he also paints in new essay

The Nobel laureate’s artwork will appear in a London exhibition

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Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Newly named Nobel laureate for literature Bob Dylan is also a painter.

The legendary singer-songwriter will open an exhibition titled “The Beaten Path” at London’s Halcyon Gallery of contemporary art on Saturday. Dylan offered up a 360-degree tour of his works and detailed his love of painting in a new essay for Vanity Fair.

In the essay, Dylan recalls looking out at the crowd after a performance with The Band: “All of a sudden, somebody lit a match. And then somebody else lit another match. … Within seconds after that, it looked like the whole arena was in flames and that all the people in the arena had struck matches and were going to burn the place down,” he writes. “We misinterpreted and misunderstood the reaction of the crowd. What we believed to be disapproval was actually a grand appreciative gesture.

“… For this series of paintings, the idea was to create pictures that would not be misinterpreted or misunderstood by me or anybody else.”

Paintings on either end of the gallery depict two roads leading toward a hilly horizon. Dylan’s pieces also feature glitzy theater marquees, store corners, and other scenes from urban life. “An attempt was made to depersonalize the works — strip them of illusion. All the work is exclusively placed in non-exotic settings within a rationally defined space,” Dylan writes. “The focus points are important and sometimes unusually placed. Background and foreground not easily defined.”

When touching on a possible soundtrack for the exhibit, Dylan named Peetie Wheatstraw, Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, Blind Lemon, and Guitar Slim as being on there, as they’re “artists that make us a lot bigger when listening to them.”

Read Dylan’s full essay on Vanity Fair.

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