Images: Courtesy of the Estate of Kurt Cobain
A rare trove of Kurt Cobain’s drawings and paintings lands at the Seattle Art Fair this week thanks to Los Angeles-based exhibition venue UTA Artist Space, who unearthed two never-before-seen paintings that have been in storage since the rocker’s death in 1994 plus sketches from his famous journals. The booth, which opens today and will be on view until August 6, will also juxtapose Cobain’s work with that of people like Dash Snow, Raymond Pettibon, and Mike Kelley, thereby placing Cobain in a canon of edgy, nonconformist visionary artists.
Highlights from the booth include the original artwork for Incesticide, an instantly recognizable skeleton, rose, and half-cracked baby head motif on a pale green background; a vibrant drawing in pink, magenta, and orange which appears to depict a fetus holding a bong; and two comic strips, one of which features the Iron Maiden skull motif. Like most of the things Cobain created, they’re wmorbid, moody, occasionally humorous, and almost always hauntingly beautiful.
While wife Courtney Love and daughter Frances Bean Cobain have both enjoyed very public turns as visual artists in the past few years, Cobain’s artistic practice is still a lesser-known aspect of his persona, doomed to be overshadowed by his legacy as Nirvana frontman and grunge-era god, as well as his untimely demise. But in addition to being technically good, not to mention full of the same kind of pathos and rawness and rage that made Nirvana so accessible, it also provides a much-desired glimpse into the psyche of an icon who touched so many and was gone so soon. And even two decades after his death, that’s something so many fans still seem to be searching for.
If you can’t make it to Cobain’s home city for the fair this week, the Rolling Stone reports that there’s talk of a traveling exhibition featuring these pieces plus sculptures, paintings, and other works. To say our fingers are crossed would be an understatement.