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A Real Multi-Media Kind of Guy : David Lynch, artist in many forms, tells his tales of Hollywood after 'Blue Velvet'

August 20, 1989|KRISTINE McKENNA

"I didn't try to make 'Twin Peaks' realistic--it's sort of a mythical town and it's a desire town." says Lynch. "It's where you'd want to go at 10 at night to just float and see what was gonna happen. The story revolves around what happens when the most popular girl in high school is mysteriously murdered--she's found floating face down at the Packard Saw Mill. We then get to know the secret lives of all the people in the town as an FBI agent attempts to unravel the crime."

Though "Twin Peaks" has been picked up for seven episodes, Lynch will only direct the pilot--for the simple reason that he'd rather make movies--and subsequent episodes will be directed by Jonathan Sanger, Tim Hunter, Leslie Glatter, Tina Rathbourne, Mark Frost and Duwayne Dunham.

Though Lynch is very high on "Twin Peaks," he generally has no interest in television. "I didn't watch much TV as a kid and I don't watch it now. I don't find anything beautiful or unique to the medium, and the only thing you can do on TV that you can't do in film is make a continuing story--which is so cool! I love the idea of the soap-opera thing.

"On the downside, there are more restrictions in TV, and you know up front you can't even think in certain directions. Heavy sex or violence is out--although I think the kind of violence that's allowed on TV is the very worst kind. There's no feeling behind it, and that makes it completely diabolical."

Among the many new faces that turn up in "Twin Peaks" is Julee Cruise, who performs a tune in the pilot written by Lynch and Badalamenti. Composer of the score for the hit film "Cousins," Badalamenti first teamed with Lynch on the song "The Mysteries of Love," which was featured in the score to "Blue Velvet," and the two have been working on various music projects, along with vocalist Cruise, for the last three years. The fruits of their labors can be heard on "Floating Into the Night," a moody record that smokes with the ethereal, heavy sensuality of music by the Cocteau Twins or the Cowboy Junkies.

"Music's been real important to me since the time I was small," recalls Lynch, who played a central role in reviving the career of the late Roy Orbison when he featured Orbison's classic song "In Dreams" in "Blue Velvet." "And it's amazing how much we know that we don't realize we know. Like music--I'm not a trained musician, but when you get into it, you discover you really do have an understanding of the form and have incredibly strong feelings about how music should be made. I'm not saying I'm a skilled musician, but me and Angelo--who's a great musician--have an instant dialogue."

"David doesn't know how to talk in musical terms, so he talked to me like he was directing a film," says Cruise. "He'd say things like, 'Really sad, Julee, make it just rip your heart out!' Or, 'You're singing into a void and feel sad but not hopeless.' His music is different from his films. He's much more tender and intimate in his music--it's as if he's whispering a secret to you in his songs."

While Lynch's music focuses on the theme of romantic love, the dark side of his nature dominates his work as a visual artist. Built around a murky palette and an enigmatic vocabulary of crudely drawn forms, Lynch's figurative abstractions pulsate with an eerie quality of violence and menace.

In a field where it usually takes years to build a career, Lynch debuted in 1987 with a show at the respected James Corcoran Gallery. While his first show sold well and garnered fairly good reviews, his show last February at Castelli was lambasted by the New York Times. Though Lynch has worked steadily as a painter for the last 20 years, the fact that he's an established director who debuted with a one-man show at a heavyweight gallery rubbed some people the wrong way.

"Generally the art world's been willing to take my work seriously, but I have encountered some resistance as far as my crossing over into their turf," says Lynch. "A critic in New York crucified me for my last show--it really seemed to bug her that I went from zero to 60 in no time at all just because of who I was. Her review was like, who was I to show up at the Castelli Gallery with this worthless crap?"

"The art world is very protective of its turf," says dealer James Corcoran, "so it's hard for people like David who are crossing over from another field. Several artists I know like his work very much, but at the same time, artists tend to be so dedicated that they have a hard time with the idea that someone could do art--and do it well--while maintaining a career in another field.

Any turf war that Lynch's presence in the art world might have aroused didn't diminish public interest in his work, and the opening of his show two years ago drew hundreds of people. The man of the hour, however, missed this year's Corcoran opening, as he was behind the cameras for "Wild at Heart," which finally began shooting last week.

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