Artwork: Frances Bean Cobain – The Joey Lawrence Wet Dream, acrylic gouache, ink on canvas, 30×40″ in., 33.5×43.5″ frame, $4,500, Sold. Art copyright 2017 Frances Bean Cobain courtesy of www.gallery30south.com All Rights Reserved.
Within one week of opening at Gallery 30 South, Pasadena, all of the art works by Frances Bean Cobain have been sold. The exhibition, a joint show with Lindsey Way, fittingly titled Ghosts for Sale, will be on view through June 30, 2017.
Ghosts for Sale is Cobain’s second exhibition—and the first to bear her name, after the 2010 pseudonymous Fiddle Tim show at La Luz de Jesus Gallery, LA. Both shows were organized by Matt Kennedy, who is the co-owner of Gallery 30 South. The new exhibition features work created specifically for Ghosts for Sale.
Lindsey Way, an illustrator who has assisted Ron English and musician in the band Mindless Self Indulgence, partners beautifully with Cobain. Her paintings are the culmination of a three-year project that incorporates elements of autobiography and metaphysical science fiction iconography, drawing from influences including Leonora Carrington, Moebius, and Fantastic Planet.
The paintings are powerful images of the feminine, drawing heavily on a palette of red, black, and white that evoke a sense of power held at bay through a mystical sensibility that hides as much as it reveals. There is a sense of calmness within the storm that makes a sumptuous counterpoint to the works of Cobain, which vibrate with a quiet frenetic energy.
Consider the lime green scene of a catlike creature drawn in ink, titled Shootin’ with Rasputin or the black and white ink and gouache heads and hands that appear in Cursed to be Eternally Boned. Each of the works is a study in a state of being that finds comfort, even solace, in the uncomfortable.
Where Cobain’s works are live wires that hum along, Way’s paintings are scenes of resolution within a paradigm that exists beyond the verbal. Way’s painting, E.S.P. best sums things up: we, the human being, lie naked with in a series of symbols that we know without using words. If we release the filter of the verbal, we can use our bodies to sense that which is naturally lost in translation.
This same sensibility comes across within Cobain’s work. The titles become lines of poetry that give shape but remain plastic and malleable at the same time. The words become like the outlines of ghosts, of spirits and secrets and things that live in another realm and are channeled through the artist, like an alchemist, transforming mere pieces of paper and bits of ink and color into visions of that which lives deep inside, which calls to us to set it free, albeit for a price.
That price is not mere money, though that is one place to start. But it goes deeper than that: it begins with putting one’s name to the art.
Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Online, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Aperture Online, and Feature Shoot. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.