Bob Dylan (b. 1941) has drawn and painted whilst on tour for many years, drawing inspiration from the people and places he has encountered on the road. Dylan is a keen observer of life, finding richness in the everyday as he sees it, and depicting the world without great embellishment or exaggeration. Stylistically, his art is driven by a constant desire for innovation and discovery, calling upon a range of influences from European modernism to American documentary photography. Dylan’s ability to draw from array of sources, and yet remain remarkably authentic, is a hallmark of his visual art and music alike. As American author Bill Flanagan writes, ‘Dylan remains restlessly creative, going down the road with his eyes wide open’.
The Asia Series, a visual reflection on Bob Dylan’s travels in Japan, China, Vietnam, and Korea, comprises people, interiors, architecture and landscapes. The series draws upon a variety of source material, from observational sketches to archival film and photography. Presenting his audience with suggestive, open-ended scenes, Dylan leaves the viewer to continue their own narrative beyond the confines of the artwork. Executed in muted, evocative colours, Dylan’s painting follows the order of natural reality; in the artist’s words, ‘the idea is to keep everything where it should be’.
2021 sees the release of a new series of prints from The Asia Series. This release in February 2021 coincides with the tour of Dylan’s first major museum retrospective across Asia. Retrospectrum spans five decades of Dylan’s artistic career and features more than 250 paintings and drawings, including the original acrylics on canvas from The Asia Series, created in 2009–2010. The exhibition unites seven series of Dylan’s visual art, along with archival material and brand-new paintings. Retrospectrum explores the sheer breadth of Dylan’s achievement and his monumental impact on the world as a musician, poet and artist. Following its opening at Modern Art Museum, Shanghai, in September 2019, the exhibition attracted over 100,000 visitors in the opening three months, making it the most visited art exhibition in Shanghai that year. Retrospectrum then travelled to the Today Art Museum in Beijing before recently opening at the Jupiter Museum of Art in Shenzhen, where it will remain until March 2021. The ongoing success of Retrospectrum is testament to Dylan’s worldwide acclaim.