In June it was announced that a series of Kurt Cobain’s paintings, alongside a selection of his notebooks, would be placed on display in the Nirvana frontman’s hometown, Seattle. Most are unseen, having remained in storage since his death in 1994.
Although most notable for his lyrics, UTA Artist Space (United Talent Agency) – which is hosting the works until 6 August at the Seattle Art Fair – explain that Cobain honed an interest in art over his lifetime, beginning during high school, adding that parallels can be drawn between the dark and humourous nature of his music and his paintings.
“Kurt Cobain was perhaps the most iconic musician of his generation, but his work as a visual artist is often overlooked” – Josh Roth, Head of UTA Fine Arts
Working across various mediums including painting, drawing, and collage, Cobain’s works point to his “creative energy and wit” but also “to his efforts to articulate his struggles”, such as depression, self-image, and heroin addiction. One, “Incesticide”, graced the cover of a 1992 album of the same name. (He also devised the artwork for 1993’s In Utero.)
“Cobain’s paintings, while not yet as well-known as his music, provide insight into the artist’s experience and present an important art historical narrative that together with his music legacy, tells a gritty story of youth culture in the 1990s,” reads the exhibition’s programme guide.
UTA has long represented Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, and last year gained representation of his estate, telling Dazed Digital that, “a new light will be shed on his oeuvre, even to fans well-versed in his work”. It also mentioned that the exhibition could go on tour.
Work by Mike Kelley, Joe Bradley, Nate Lowman, Eliza-beth Peyton, Dennis Hopper and Dash Snow, among others, are also on display, and will “establish a dialogue between Cobain’s iconic oeuvre, those who influenced him, and those he has influenced.”
Josh Roth, Head of UTA Fine Arts, added: “Kurt Cobain was perhaps the most iconic musician of his generation, but his work as a visual artist is often overlooked. These paintings provide an opportunity to see him, and some of his contemporaries, in a new light.”
UTA Artist Space at the Seattle Art Fair is on display now until Sunday 6 August 2017